February 1

Winslow man’s cancer has family stepping up in a big way

When Michael Poulin was diagnosed with smoldering multiple myeloma, his children took action and have not only raised thousands for research, but started a Maine myeloma charity.

By Jesse Scardina jscardina@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

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Contributed photoSTAIR MASTER: Nate Poulin runs in last year’s Empire State Building Run-Up, the annual climb up the Empire State Building’s 1,576 steps. Poulin will be running it again Wednesday to raise money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, after his father, Michael Poulin of Winslow, was diagnosed with the incurable cancer.

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Contributed photoRUNNING TOGETHER: Michael Poulin, center, holds his granddaughter, Molly Magoun, next to his son and Molly’s uncle, Nate Poulin, at 2012’s Race for Myeloma 5K in Bangor. It was the first charity race that the Poulins ran. Nate, along with his sister and brother-in-law Katie and Andrew Magoun, would go on to raise more than $10,000 in 2013 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

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Myeloma charities

Since its start in 1998, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation has raised more than $240 million to fund research for a cure for the deadly blood disease. The foundation is the largest private funder for myeloma research, directing more than 90 percent of its money toward research.

“We’re driving a lot of the search in expedited treatments for myeloma,” said Alicia O’Neill, the director of endurance events at MMRF.

To help support the cause, Andrew and Katie Magoun started a Maine group, ME Against Myeloma. All the money raised by the two through charity road races is funneled to MMRF.

“Sometimes, when people connect with us they do their own local outreach because they know if they can raise money, then we’re going to put it to work to keep their loved ones alive,” O’Neill said.

To get involved, visit the MMRF donation page. For more information on ME Against Myeloma, visit its Facebook page or donate here.

Andrew and Katie Magoun, both with New England roots, had been talking about moving to Maine one day. Poulin’s condition accelerated the move, and six months after the diagnosis, the Magouns were living in Portland.

Andrew Magoun had been an analyst for the Department of Defense. In Portland, Andrew is a stay-at-home dad, while Katie works for L.L. Bean, training its seasonal workforce.

“When he told us, there was no better reason to move closer to the family,” Andrew Magoun said. “We were lucky enough to be in a position to make that happen.”

The importance of having his grandchildren relatively close can’t be understated, Kathy Poulin said. Fighting back tears, she had trouble putting what it meant to them in words.

“It’s one of the most wonderful things they could have done for us, for Mike,” she said.

The grandchildren are the best therapy for Poulin.

“Having them here really is a god send for me,” he said, adding that every other week, both Molly, 4, and Wesley, 2, stay in Winslow for the weekend. “For me, the situation I’m in, it’s a psychological issue more than a physical issue. There are distractions, things to do during the day, but the thing that distracts me the most are my grandkids. I can tell you that I sleep better when they’re close by. I’m not sure if it’s because we’re just tired from them wearing us out or simply because the comfort of knowing they’re close by.”

Yet, at such a young age, Poulin is hoping he can instill that lasting memory of Grandpa in his grandchildren before it’s too late.

“You don’t escape that concern that you’re living with a disease that can potentially end your life,” he said. “You’re concerned about the day you’re not here anymore. For me, one of the things I’ve always wanted is to make sure my grandkids remember who I am. They’re at the age where they know who I am, but whether they’ll have long-lasting memories, I don’t know.”

1,576 STAIRS, 86 FLOORS

Living in New York City, working as a senior planning manager for Bonobos, an e-commerce driven men’s apparel store, Nate Poulin, 30, wanted to do something to help, but moving back to Maine wasn’t a viable career option. Living in the city, Nate Poulin knew about the annual climb up the Empire State Building’s 1,576 steps, but he didn’t think about it much.

“I had seen the race a long time ago, thought it was something novel and cool to do,” Nate Poulin said. “But I never thought much of it other than it was interesting.”

In the summer of 2012, Nate Poulin was trying to figure out what he could do to help spread awareness for myeloma, when he discovered the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, which is the title sponsor for the Empire State Building Run-Up. It was the perfect match for the former Winslow High School hockey star.

“Here I am, an able-bodied young person who found this great foundation that supports cancer research,” he said. “I started to look at how to get involved with the organization.”

Nate Poulin contacted the foundation, which had an open spot in the run-up for 2013. He had to raise $2,500 for the charity to ensure the spot. He ended up raising $3,300 and participated in the run-up last year, climbing the more than 1,500 stairs in just more than 28 minutes.

One thing runners generally don’t do is stick around at the top to enjoy the New York City skyline from more than 80 stories up.

“You’re in this incredibly hot, tiny staircase and you go from it being 95 degrees to bursting through doors and it’s February in New York and it’s freezing cold,” he said. “Once you get to the top, you immediately want to get inside.”

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Additional Photos

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Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans Kathy and Michael Poulin at their Winslow home recently. Michael was diagnosed with Myeloma, a rare blood disorder two years ago. Their son Nate will be climbing the stairs in the Empire State Building to raise money and awareness for the disease.

  


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