The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office is showing its support for a veteran investigator’s wife as she undergoes treatment for breast cancer.
All sheriff’s office vehicles are displaying the Maine breast cancer plate with the registration 30-A on the front of the vehicle.
The number 30 refers to LCSO’s unit 30, Detective Sgt. Jason Pease, a 16 1/2-year veteran of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office currently on assignment with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. The letter A refers to Jason Pease’s wife, Shanna Pease.
Law enforcement agencies often use the designation “A unit” to refer to an officer’s wife. “That’s a long-standing tradition in law enforcement,” Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Michael Murphy said. The term frequently crops up in radio communications.
“If you hear someone say, ‘Call your A unit,’ that means call your wife,” Murphy said.
In addition to her status as unit 30-A, Shanna Pease was on the sheriff’s office roster herself for about five years.
She was a corrections officer at the old Lincoln County Jail and, after the construction of Two Bridges Regional Jail, a sheriff’s deputy working in court security, programs, and transport.
When she left the sheriff’s office, she did not go far, taking a position with Volunteers of America in an office in the old jail. She worked with the state’s family treatment drug courts and supervised domestic violence offenders on pretrial contracts.
She moved across the parking lot for about six months to work in an administrative position with the district attorney’s office before returning to the old jail to work for the Maine Department of Corrections as a probation officer assistant.
Shanna Pease was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in July. She had surgery – a lumpectomy with a reduction – on her ninth wedding anniversary, Sept. 2. The surgeons removed two tumors from her left breast.
The surgeons reported “good margins” around the tumors, she said. During the surgery, however, they removed a lymph node with cancer in it, leading to a change in diagnosis to stage 2 breast cancer.
After about a month of recovery, she started chemotherapy in October. She underwent four rounds of chemotherapy every three weeks, with her last treatment Dec. 8.
The next step is radiation therapy, which she will start in Bath on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. After radiation, she will take the medication tamoxifen for five to 10 years to reduce the risk of developing a more serious type of breast cancer.
Shanna Pease’s doctors “have a very positive outlook,” she said, and she and her family – the Peases have a 17-year-old daughter and 7-year-old twin sons – have adopted the old prescription for laughter as the best medicine.
“We keep our humor about us,” Shanna Pease said. “We try to keep things light, and that’s how we deal with things. We try not to take it too seriously. I know it’s a serious subject, but we really kind of make fun of the situation to keep ourselves laughing.”
The Peases have received support from the community, with people bringing food, sending cards, and stopping by to check on the family. The sheriff’s office has been leading the way.
After Shanna Pease’s diagnosis, “We were trying to think of some ways to show our support,” said Murphy, who arrived at the sheriff’s office with Jason Pease in 1999 and oversees the Criminal Investigative Division where Jason Pease works.
Sgt. Brendan Kane suggested license plates, and Sgt. Jason Nein lobbied connections in the Maine Department of the Secretary of State.
“Between Brendan’s idea and Jason having the contacts with the secretary of state’s office, we were able to get these plates and got permission from the secretary of state’s office to display them on our cars for a limited period of time,” Murphy said.
The sheriff’s office received the plates Nov. 22, and the plates will remain on the vehicles through Jan. 31, 2016. The project did not use any county taxpayer funds.
The Department of the Secretary of State “was generous enough to donate these plates to us,” Murphy said. The deputies are going to buy the plates at the end of the time period, with the officers’ donations going to the Peases to offset medical expenses.
Members of the law enforcement community often organize similar efforts to support one another, according to Murphy.
“The law enforcement community is pretty tight,” he said. “We look out for each other.”
Shanna Pease said she is “very grateful” for the “outpouring” of help from the community in general and the sheriff’s office in particular.
The sheriff’s office “has been over the top with support,” she said, and the license plates are “wonderful.”
“It was very sweet, and, of course, it made me cry, and the boys down there, they’ve taken me under their wing like they do with anyone who’s in a situation that’s a little bit rough on their family,” Shanna Pease said.
“They’re our family at the sheriff’s office,” she said.
Receiving such help has required an adjustment.
“It’s very humbling for them to do that and it’s odd for us to accept help or to accept anything from other people,” she said. “We’re kind of the ones who take names off the trees at Christmas time and try to give to others, and it’s been a learning process for us, accepting help from other people.”
The pink-and-purple breast cancer plates include the words “early detection saves lives,” and Shanna Pease hopes the plates on the cruisers can help spread the word.
“I have no family history and I probably wouldn’t even have found the cancer,” she said. “I couldn’t feel the lumps or anything, and it was a slow-growing cancer, so if I didn’t get screened with a mammogram, I probably wouldn’t have found it for years.
“If this can help people be aware and get the word out there to be screened, and if it touches just one person, they’ve done their job.”