FAYETTE — Cathy Nichols is playing the hand she was dealt and fighting every day against aggressive pancreatic cancer to live a quality life as long as she can.

“I consider myself a blessed woman in many ways. I have had a wonderful life, a loving family and lifelong friends,” the 59-year-old woman said.

She had repeatedly gone to the doctors for months complaining about pain in her stomach. She underwent an ultrasound and was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer on Jan. 14.

She was given six months to live.

The pancreatic cancer had spread to her liver, gall bladder and there are spots on her lungs, she said. It is very aggressive cancer and it is incurable, she said.

She went on medical leave from Spruce Mountain High School in Jay the day she was diagnosed. She has been a special education technician for five years in the district and had coached cheerleading for many years in Livermore Falls and for the Area Youth Sports organization. She also worked in the summer recreation program.

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She previously worked as a special education technician in School Administrative District 52 schools in the Turner area and worked as a Jobs For Maine Graduates specialist at Leavitt Area High School in Turner.

Many people have contacted her and given her support for her fight and offering to help in any way they can.

“I have heard from so many people. It is absolutely amazing. It helps so much to know how many people care,” Nichols said. “It has given me strength and it gives me courage. I never knew how many people were touched with the things I did with them. It is so humbling. It gets very emotional.”

She never thought she was doing anything special, just going about her day.

“I hope people know how much they are giving me,” she said, whether it is a text, a Facebook message, an email or other positive support.

“You get so much strength and energy from all these acts of kindness,” she said as she wiped tears from her eyes.

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Happy tears, she said, for the love she has for the people.

A benefit supper is scheduled from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7, in the cafeteria of  Spruce Mountain High School in Jay. A raffle and silent auction will follow. Proceeds will help Nichols with expenses.

Doctors offered her chemotherapy treatment but after consulting with her family, she decided to not take treatments.

“There is nothing they are offering me that would extend my life,” Nichols said. “I’m not throwing in the towel. I was willing to do chemo if it helped me.”

She has an appointment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and if they have something to offer that will extend her life, she is open to it, she said.

“My big thing right now is trying to keep weight on and fight the good fight,” she said.

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“I am fighting every day. I want to live a quality life as long as I can,” Nichols said. “I believe in miracles.”

Her husband, Leroy, underwent chemotherapy treatment but lost his battle to cancer 20 years ago. He didn’t live a quality life in the end.

“Twenty years ago, this community stepped up to help him and now they are stepping up to help me,” she said.

Nichols said she has been open and honest about her terminal cancer.

“People seem to appreciate the honesty. I have good days and bad days,” she said. “You play the hand that is dealt to you and you play it to the best of your ability and you play to win. I get up every day and am grateful for every day. I hope to continue down this road and keep praying for a miracle.”

dperry@sunmediagroup.net

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What: Benefit supper for Cathy Nichols

When: 4 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7

Where: Spruce Mountain High School cafeteria, Jay

Why: Proceeds to help defray medical expenses and associated costs

Admission: $5 children, $7 adults.

A raffle and silent auction will begin at 6:30 p.m.

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