Mizpah encompasses healing, hope and help

8 years ago

Sanctuary will offer cancer-related talks this season

GRAND ISLE — For those suffering from cancer, it can be an extraordinarily isolating experience. There is a place where survivors, their friends and families, or anyone suffering from grief can come to reflect, meditate, and be at peace with nature. That place is called “Mizpah,” and this year the sanctuary is adding a series of presentations involving local medical professionals from area hospitals.

Mizpah, which is Hebrew for “to help another,” was created by Richard Corbin in 1991. In 1969, at age 22, Richard was diagnosed with Hodgkin disease and given less than a year to live. He received treatments that were relatively new at the time, and he fought long and hard. Along the way he made a promise to God that if he could be spared for a while longer he would build a place where people who are suffering may come and share their experiences, find peace, and enjoy the beauty of the world around them.

Corbin was able to make that dream a reality with the creation of Mizpah, a 15-acre property located in Grand Isle. It is open to the public at no charge from May through October and receives about 4,500 visitors every year. There are nature walks, flower gardens, a fishing pond and many special areas.

Corbin passed away in 2015 at the age of 71. Mizpah is now faithfully run by his two brothers, Roger and Mike, and has become a nonprofit organization with a seven-member board of directors. The mission remains: to have a place to gather, help, support, and to comfort each other.

On the first Friday of every month from June through October, a Mass is held at 1 p.m. This year they have added a series of cancer-related presentations, which will be held in the yellow assembly building immediately after the Mass so those who choose not to attend the service may still experience the presentations. Light refreshments will be available and everything is free of charge.

Now through October, various health professionals from The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle and Cary Medical Center in Caribou will present several diverse topics, all cancer-related.

The first talk in this new series took place on Friday, June 3, and featured cancer survivor Guy Roy of St. David.

In 2012, Roy was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. He was told it was too advanced for surgery. He traveled to Cancer Treatment Center of America in Philadelphia for treatments, which included medical, natural supplements and spiritual components.

“We prayed together, which is not something you see in most hospitals,” said Roy. “I was very impressed.”

PALS (Patient Airlift Services) have transported Roy, often right from Frenchville to Philadelphia. He had 14 “big” treatments that lasted for 48 hours every 10 days. He’s now undergoing some smaller treatments as a result of recent tests.

“We believe in the power of prayer,” he said. “A lot of people were praying for me and it made a real difference.”

Cary Medical Center’s Kim Wilcox, a registered radiologic technologist and certified patient navigator, will present “Navigation Through the Cancer Journey” on July 1. Dr. Alan Mautz and Randy Bacon from TAMC’s imaging department will discuss the hospital’s new PET/CT scan on Aug. 5. Participants can meet Aroostook Cancer Care’s new oncologist, Dr. Hussain Naseri, on Sept. 2, and the series wraps up with Bethany Zell from Cary Medical Center, president of the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition, on Oct. 7 for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Roger and Mike Corbin are carrying on the dream that their late brother began. Mizpah is where people come to experience the emotional bond in hopes of lifting the pain of grief. With the addition of these presentations, they have added an educational element.

Mizpah’s centerpiece is a cancer survivor wall. Inscribed on the top of the wall are the words “Strength, Faith, Courage, and Hope.” During the months of May through October, it is never locked and there is never a charge.

For more information, visit www.mizpah.us.