The staff at the University of Maine at Presque Isle's health and wellness facility are celebrating National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October with a week's worth of activities meant to educate, pamper, focus on healthy living, and celebrate life. Gentile Hall's Breast Cancer Awareness Week will be held from Oct. 15 to 18, with a different event each evening between 6 and 8 p.m. All events are free and campus and community members of all ages are invited to attend.
The week's activities are being led by Keli Marston, UMPI's Fitness and Wellness Coordinator, and Amanda Baker, UMPI's Recreation Programs Coordinator. Marston explained that the Gentile Hall staff wanted to find a way to join the community in celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as the disease has touched so many lives.
"We wanted this space, which is dedicated to health and wellness, to be a place for women of all ages to gather, share their stories, and support each other," Marston said. "Our Breast Cancer Awareness Week activities are wonderful opportunities to learn, celebrate, be active, and even have some fun. We hope mothers, daughters, grandmothers, friends – everyone – will join us for our week-long event."
Activities begin on Monday, Oct. 15, with an Education Night. The evening will include a talk by local breast cancer survivor and motivational speaker Bridget McIntosh. She will share the story of her personal battle with breast cancer. The event will also include a discussion with a physician from Cary Medical Center, who will share information on the importance of early detection and taking care of your body, yearly exams, and monthly self-exams. Also during the evening, the physician will be available to provide free breast exams and training on how to conduct self-breast examinations.
On Tuesday, Oct. 16, Marston and Baker will host an evening of pampering with a Spa Night. Local businesswomen will be offering everything from manicures and pedicures to chair massages. The event will include a "My Body is Beautiful" body painting session provided by UMPI Fine Art students. There will be giveaways for the first 50 attendees.
Fit Night on Wednesday, Oct. 17, will serve as the third evening of activities, with Marston and Baker providing a focus on healthy living and taking proper care of your body. Marston will lead a special Fit Camp workout session, complete with a quick 30-minute body weight circuit. Baker will have a party waiting for people in the rock wall area. Yoga demonstrations also will be available and the pool will be open for a water aerobics session.
On Thursday, Oct. 18, all are invited to take part in a Celebration of Life Night. In conjunction with local officials with the Relay for Life (a major fundraising event for the American Cancer Society), there will be a mini luminary ceremony, similar to the one that takes place each year during the local Relay for Life event each June, as well as a candlelight walk. Participants will gather at Gentile Hall for the event. Luminary bags will be on hand for participants to decorate and will be placed outside the building, weather permitting. Candles and pink glow sticks will be distributed. UMPI Professor Lisa Leduc will tell her own story of surviving breast cancer prior to leading the walk. The group will then depart for a reflective, hope-filled walk around campus. In the event of rain or snow, the walk will take place on the elevated track.
"This is going to be an inspiring evening and an excellent opportunity for all of us to gather together in solidarity with those who have been impacted by breast cancer," Baker said. "It will also be a lovely culmination to the week's activities, which really all are about the same thing – celebrating life."
This event is sponsored in part by The Aroostook Medical Center, Cary Medical Center, The Total Look, Pink Aroostook, Relay for Life, Healthy You, and Graves Shop 'N Save.
For more information about Gentile Hall's Breast Cancer Awareness Week, contact Marston at 207-768-9773.