The morning of October 12 was gray, rainy and dreary. But that didn’t stop more than 900 cancer survivors, fighters and loved ones from gathering at Mill Park in Augusta. Rain can’t dampen hope, and this was clearly demonstrated by the smiles, hugs and laughter as our community of hope marched through Augusta’s downtown. We celebrated this convergence of strength and healing as we lifted up our fighters, celebrated our survivors and honored those we’ve lost.

We were joined by our three marshals: Heidi Sherburne, a stage 4 breast and ovarian cancer survivor; Joel Blackwell, a Hodgkins Lymphoma fighter; and Jennifer Morrow, a breast cancer fighter. They stood up during the survivor ceremony, invited survivors and fighters to stand with them, and reminded us that this community comes together to show that we are stronger together and that no one has to walk alone.

As always, your dollars, steps and presence make a difference. With more than $150,000 raised, funds continue to stay close to home and this year will provide technology advancements to key radiology oncology tools: LINAC and 3D Tomography. Both of these pieces of equipment provide clearer accuracy and imaging in the steps toward diagnosis and treatment— improving survivorship. This upgrade will advance the HACCC to having the most up-to-date technology in the state, enhancing our ability to bring the very best in cancer care to you, close to home.

Heidi

Heidi had just gotten married in June 2005. She and her new husband were celebrating their honeymoon at the beach when she felt a stabbing pain in her chest. After several rounds of diagnostics, she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.
8 rounds of chemotherapy.

35 radiation treatments.
Full mastectomy.
An ovarian cancer diagnosis.
Removal of her ovaries.

Each followed the other, challenging Heidi every step of the way. But every day, she got up and she fought. She fought for her life and she kept working while doing it. A coworker who nominated Heidi to be a marshal at this year’s Walk for Hope comments, “Heidi never let cancer stop her from going above and beyond in her work. She has been resilient and strong and I can’t think of a better person to lead the Walk for Hope.”

Jennifer

Jennifer was pregnant with her second son when she experienced swelling under her arm. A lump developed in her breast and she became concerned she wouldn’t be able to nurse her baby. She knew something wasn’t right, and further testing and diagnostics gave the answer no one wants to hear – breast cancer. Keegan was born and shortly after, Jenn began a rigorous round of chemotherapy – thankful that a targeted treatment was available for her specific, rapid, aggressive, tumor type.

Jenn is still fighting. With testing, surgery and potential radiation treatments looming, she wakes up every day prepared to fight and to be strong for 6-month-old Keegan, and 8-year-old son, Blake.

They are why she walks.

Joel

Joel served our country, returning home from a deployment in 2006. He had a plan for his life; rising in the ranks of the military, getting married, having children. Cancer changed everything. Joel was diagnosed in 2006 with Hodgkins Lymphoma. He received treatment at “the old” MaineGeneral, on 6 East Chestnut Street. He went into remission – and then his cancer came back. In 2013, he received treatment at the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care (HACCC) and again, his cancer entered remission. And then it came back. Another round of treatment in October 2018 has sent his cancer back into remission. This battle on the home front has been a wakeup call to Joel, a wakeup to his faith and purpose.

When asked what the Walk for Hope means to Joel, he says, “The Walk represents strength – there are so many who can’t walk and who aren’t here. Walking for them is important, showing a united front in the face of cancer.”

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