Tracy Hibbard Kasprzak Cancer Treatment Center Opens
A Dover-Foxcroft resident who family members say lived her life with kindness, generosity, good humor and grace, including during her 15-year battle with cancer, will be remembered through the Tracy Hibbard Kasprzak Cancer Treatment Center on the second floor of Mayo Regional Hospital. The center was formally dedicated on the morning of Sept. 23.
Mayo Regional Hospital CEO Marie Vienneau welcomed the crowd filling the hallway leading to the Tracy Hibbard Kasprzak Cancer Treatment Center, saying it was heartwarming to see the turnout. Vienneau said when she arrived in Dover-Foxcroft four years ago there was a discussion on moving the cancer center from the nearby original hospital building to the main facility.
Vienneau said Jane Hibbard Merrill and her family came forward in 2015 with a $250,000 memorial gift to help relocate and expand oncology services at the hospital, a need Hibbard Kasprzak noted during her treatments. “We could not be more grateful and we are thrilled to name the center for their daughter,” Vienneau said.
The CEO said the center project cost about $650,000 and was part of a $2.3 million investment in the second floor “for the comfort and privacy of our patients and staff.”
Dr. David McDermott, medical director of inpatient and emergency services, said the attendees were there to honor Hibbard Kasprzak, who he said was a daughter, sister, wife, and grandmother. He said Hibbard Kasprzak lived by four C’s, being compassionate, comprehensive, compliant and caring.
Dr. McDermott said Hibbard Kasprzak traveled throughout the country to fight for a cure, “yet it’s fitting when the time came for treatment she came home here to her hometown hospital.”
Dr. Elizabeth Dennis, outpatient medical director, said she met Hibbard Kasprzak as a patient. Dr. Dennis said Hibbard Kasprzak “helped me in an effort to be humble and patient, I call it receiving a celestial kick in the backside.”
“When I feel sorry for myself, for whatever reason, Tracy and all the other wonderful people pop into my head,” Dr. Dennis said, noting she realizes where she is in life and what these patients have gone through.
Behind a curtain was a Memory Wall for Hibbard Kasprzak, revealed at the end of the ceremony. “I anticipate I will pause and take a deep breath at the memorial, and this will not only help me as a human but help me with patients,” Dr. Dennis said.
Hibbard Merrill then came to the podium and thanked everyone who was involved in the project honoring her daughter. “Now I would like to give you a brief history of Tracy’s journey,” Hibbard Merrill said.
She said Hibbard Kasprzak was born on March 8, 1962, the daughter of the late Gary M. Hibbard and herself. “She graduated from Foxcroft Academy in the class of 1980 and went on to receive her registered nursing degree from Eastern Maine Community College in 1995,” Hibbard Merrill said. “Tracy continued working in the nursing field in the Bangor area until she returned to her hometown in 1998 to work alongside her mother and sister at the family-owned business, the Hibbard Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.”
Hibbard Kasprzak was first diagnosed with colon cancer at 37. “She vowed at that time never to give up and to fight for a cure,” Hibbard Merrill said. “She underwent chemo and radiation therapy, major surgery, along with various experimental treatments throughout the U.S. searching for that cure. During her 15-year battle with cancer, Tracy was sustained by her devoted husband Jamie Kasprzak and their three children Aliza Kasprzak Gerrish, Alexander Kasprzak, and Joshua Kasprzak, and realized the importance of having private and comfortable treatment near family, friends, and a supportive community.”
Hibbard Kasprzak died March 25, 2014. “Let this cancer treatment center be a lasting legacy of Tracy’s life,” Hibbard Merrill said,
Hibbard Kasprzak’s sister Melissa Graham said, “Shortly after Tracy passed away in 2014 my mother had a vision to help patients in Tracy’s memory.”
Graham said her sister always had a zest for life which “never wavered, even in the 15 years after she was diagnosed.”
“After she passed I learned her daily struggles were more than I knew,” Graham said.
She then said she was paraphrasing the late college basketball coach Jimmy Valvano in a speech he made near the end of his life. Graham said like Valvano, cancer may have slowed Hibbard Kasprzak “but it did not touch her mind, it did not touch her heart and it did not touch her soul.”
Graham said the local cancer treatment center will help patients, reducing the need for travel out of the region.
After Hibbard Kasprzak’s three children cut the ceremonial ribbon, her mother, and sister and pulled down the curtain to reveal the Memory Wall honoring the center namesake.