Hospital dedicates report to Paradis Fund organizers

FORT KENT, Maine — Northern Maine Medical Center (NNMC) Chief Executive Officer Peter Sirois announced that the hospital’s 2016 annual report to the community is being dedicated to the people who have made the Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund what it is today.

Sirois said, “We are deeply grateful for the hard work and years of dedication that brought Edgar (Guy) Paradis’ dream to fruition.” Each year the annual report is dedicated to a group who has had a significant impact on the lives of communities NMMC serves.

One of 14 children, born to Lucille and Raoul Paradis in 1954, Edgar J. Paradis was to face something no one wants for their child: cancer. Edgar was nicknamed Guy the day he was brought home from the hospital.  

Family stories reveal Guy was a caring young man with many talents. For instance, while recuperating from a fall which resulted in multiple fractures, he developed an interest in photography. In 1976, he even applied to photography school. When he had the last of his surgical pins removed after his accident, a large tumor was discovered in his chest, necessitating surgery followed by chemotherapy. The yearlong battle with cancer temporarily delayed his dream of pursuing photography, which he resumed after treatment. Photography provided him with a form of self-expression in dealing with cancer.

What Guy and his family did not know was that his battle with cancer was not over. Though he seemed to revert to a normal life, such as assisting family with construction projects and snowmobiling, later that spring he was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. The prognosis was grim, leaving him and his family with a sense of helplessness.

In working through this crisis, Guy told family he wanted to leave something behind to represent his life after he passed. When he was 24, he establish a fund to support families dealing with similar circumstances, and contributed his savings to create a base for the fund. Soon after, he lost his battle to leukemia on June 4, 1978.

The Paradis family, true to his wishes, immediately set up the structure and launched the Edgar J. (Guy) Paradis Leukemia Fund, naming a board of directors and planning fundraising efforts. Beginning with Guy’s $2,000 savings, along with anonymous donations amounting to an additional $5,000, the family set out to make Guy’s wish come true by informing others of his dream. The very first summer after his passing they organized a walkathon and raised $4,200.

Approximately 10 years later, the Paradis family approached Northern Maine Medical Center to seek support through a partnership as a means to expand the fund. In 1988, the fund became the Edgar J. (Guy) Paradis Cancer Fund, and since then has been administered by NMMC.

The mission of the Fund is not only to provide financial support to families but also a reference library to provide accurate information, annual cancer education programs for ongoing learning and networking, and a cancer support group for cancer victims and their families to share common experiences and solutions.

Guy’s sister, Francoise, said, “Let my brother smile with pride and satisfaction because his wish is fulfilled and his contribution is worthy.”

Paradis left the gift of hope, and the Paradis family and all of its supporters have kept the gift alive. Through the untiring efforts of the family and the generous support and donations from so many, the Fund reached a $1 million milestone this year.

On behalf of the people of the St. John Valley, NMMC extends grateful appreciation to the Paradis family for their strength and fortitude to make Guy’s dream come to life by supporting so many patients and families.

To learn more about ways to support the Cancer Fund, contact Claire Moss at 207-834-1411.

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