Breast cancer survivors honored in lead-up to Bangor Komen race

Posted Aug. 27, 2012, at 12:37 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Jane Sawyer of Brewer is being honored as the first of three breast cancer “survivors of the week” in the lead-up to the Susan G. Komen Maine Race for the Cure in Bangor on Sept. 16.

The Maine Komen affiliate and Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway will recognize breast cancer survivors who are participating in the race with a reception at the casino on Sept. 13.

Sawyer’s breast cancer was found by her gynecologist during a breast exam. She began her treatment with a lumpectomy, and her lymph nodes were also removed after it was discovered that the cancer had spread.

Two weeks after her first chemotherapy treatment, Sawyer completed a short walk in the Race for the Cure.

“It was so inspiring to be among that sea of women with pink shirts,” she said. “For the first time since my diagnosis I felt like, if all these women can get through it, I can get through it.”

It was only a year later that Sawyer found a lump in her other breast. She chose to have a mastectomy and ultimately decided it was time to undergo breast reconstruction.

“Four years into the process, everything was finally finished, I was finished,” Sawyer said.

She continues to be treated at Eastern Maine Medical Center as part of a clinical trial.

“My other — and final treatment — was hormonal,” she said. “I’ve been taking medication to block the production of estrogen, which is what fed my tumors. Typically the standard treatment is five years, but as part of the clinical trial that treatment is prolonged for five more years. It’s a great opportunity to contribute to research and the overall knowledge of breast cancer.”

Sawyer said she’s amazed by the women she has met throughout her battle against breast cancer.

“I am cancer free right now, and have been for five years — it was five years on January 5 — that is a landmark nowadays,” she said.

The reception for survivors participating in the race and their guests will be held at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 13, at Hollywood Casino. For information or to RSVP for the Survivor Reception, visit www.komenmaine.org.

The Bangor Race for the Cure is in its 16th year. It has grown steadily, reaching a record-breaking 5,600 participants and raising more than $330,000 in 2010.

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