Tri for a Cure

Editorial photography for Maine Women Magazine's Tri for a Cure issue.

I met Sarah at the Eastern Prom in Portland, Maine to photograph her with Elaine’s bike. Read an expert from the July issue of Maine Women Magazine below.

Sarah showing me the bike pack at with Elaine’s RX Bar and snacks still in it. She couldn’t bring herself to remove them.

Sarah showing me the bike pack at with Elaine’s RX Bar and snacks still in it. She couldn’t bring herself to remove them.

How a breakfast and a bike connected two brave women fighting cancer; Sarah Emerson will ride a bike belonging to the late Elaine Bourne over the finish line at this year’s Tri for a Cure.

In 2017, Sarah Emerson stood on the sidelines at the Tri for a Cure. She was deep into her fight against breast cancer, but she wanted to show her support for the participants. So she made a sign and held it up as women raced past her. “I had chemo on Friday,” the sign said. “You can do this!”

Many of the women running the race stopped to give her back that encouragement. They hugged her, took pictures with her and told her they’d see her on the course the following year. In 2018, Emerson walked into the survivor’s breakfast, an event held the day before the Maine Cancer Foundation’s annual Tri for a Cure. “There were only a few empty seats left and I grabbed one of the last ones,” she says. A few minutes later, another woman slid into the seat next to her and introduced herself as Elaine Bourne.

ourne had been training for the 2018 triathlon for months. In September 2016 she’d been diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, a fast moving, aggressive form of the disease. She’d viewed that diagnosis into a call for both acceptance and action. She’d bought herself a beautiful new Trek bike and started training for the Tri’s 15-mile bike ride, the 1/3-mile swim and the 5K, all while working full time and pushing back against cancer. But that May, while running another 5K—Bourne was an avid runner and had run several Beach to Beacons—something felt not quite right. She was winded. She had to take breaks from running.  By June, Bourne learned that her cancer had reached Stage 4 and metastasized to her brain.

But she refused to drop out of the race. She reached out to the Maine Cancer Foundation to ask for help figuring out a way to participate that wouldn’t include all three portions of the triathlon. She was matched her with someone who could do the swim and the bike, but her partner would use her own equipment. Bourne’s shiny new Trek would not be used.

Read the full story here at Maine Women’s Magazine