Skowhegan, foreground, congratulates Dirigo, after a game at the Battle for Breast Cancer on Saturday at Thomas College in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo Michael G. Seamans

WATERVILLE — Every year, Paul Doughty wonders if all the time put into organizing the Battle for Breast Cancer field hockey tournament is worth it.

“Then I read the letters, and say ‘We’ve got to do it,'” Doughty, the longtime field hockey coach at Skowhegan Area High School, said.

Saturday at Thomas College, Doughty hosted the 9th annual Battle for Breast Cancer. Eleven high school field hockey teams from around central Maine took part, with the goal of raising money in support of patients using the services at the Martha B. Webber Breast Care Center in Farmington. Combined, the previous eight Battle for Breast Cancer events raised $201,592. The first event in 2011 brought in $16,665. Last year, the Battle for Breast Cancer raised $37,978. This year’s goal is $40,000, Doughty said. Before a game was played or a 50/50 raffle ticket was sold, they were almost halfway to that goal.

“This morning we already had $19,000,” Doughty said.

Jason Taylor sports his finest pink tutu and socks to support his daughter during the Battle for Breast Cancer on Saturday at Thomas College in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

The money raised through the Battle for Breast Cancer doesn’t go to the hospital. It goes directly to the patients who need it. Tammy White is a breast cancer support nurse at the Martha B. Webber Center, and she’s often the one to break the life-shaking diagnosis to the patient. She’s there as the patient attempts to mentally sort through 1,000 things at once. White is there simply to help, and the money raised through the Battle for Breast Cancer makes her job so much easier, White said.

Recently, White went over the treatment plan with a recently diagnosed woman. Even with insurance, the patient knew the bills would pile up. For example, White said, each radiation treatment has a $40 co-pay. Now factor in treatment five times a week, and biopsies, and other treatments and appointments.

“It adds up,” White said.

Sometimes, the money offsets the costs of a co-pay. Sometimes, it provides a gas card to fill the tank to get to and from treatment. The families of some patients have been able to buy groceries. Even heating oil, when the medical bills pie up. For some, the cost of a mammogram is prohibitive. The money raised in the Battle for Breast Cancer can help with that, too.

“Babysitters. You’ve got to go in for a four hour chemo treatment, and then you’ve got to pay for a babysitter,” Doughty said. “I read a lot of letters. Some of them are so heartbreaking.”

Pam Spaulding and Cindy Place are field hockey officials, and they organized finding officials to volunteer their time working Saturday’s games. It wasn’t difficult.

“Because it’s been going for so long, people anticipate it,” Spaulding said.

Doughty estimated more than 650 people in central Maine have been helped by the money raised by this field hockey tournament. The games began at 2 Saturday afternoon and were expected to go on until at least 9 p.m. The day began with a ceremony, all 250 athletes, along with coaches and officials, paraded on to Bernatchez Field, walking side by side on the center line before fanning out in the middle of the field. There were so many, they stretched beyond each of the goals and back up the baselines. Most teams wore pink in some fashion. Pink jerseys, or pink socks, or both.

The artificial turf of Bernatchez Field radiated heat. Nobody complained.

They listened to Doughty talk about all the ways the tournament has helped cancer patients and their families over the last near-decade. Jill Gray read a letter from a patient, expressing thanks to the field hockey players for what they do. The Battle for Breast Cancer paid for that patient’s mammogram.

Finally, there was the games. In an era where so many people think about themselves first, it’s important to show all the young athletes a way to give back, Doughty said. That’s as much a part of the Battle for Breast Cancer as the fundraising.

“It’s OK to care about yourself,” Doughty said, “but you’ve got to care about others.”


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