For nearly 16 years, youngsters attending Capri Street School in Brewer have been greeted each day by the warm and welcoming presence of Dawn Jordan, “the lunch lady,” as she refers to herself.
Hundreds of little ones have been part of her life, and they a part of hers, as she serves up good food and good feelings that help ensure good health for the children who are fed breakfast and lunch by members of the Brewer schools food service department.
Now, however, rather than serving others, Dawn is being served something to help improve her own heath in the form of twice-monthly chemotherapy treatments for pancreatic cancer.
And, as if that weren’t enough for Dawn and her husband, Ken Jordan, to deal with, Ken also is being treated for chronic lymphocytic leukemia-non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Ken is a career electrician who worked 20 years for LaClair Electric of Eddington until he was diagnosed in September 2010 and had to stop working two months later, while Dawn stopped working after her diagnosis in March.
With both of them no longer employed, times have been a bit tough and the couple is most grateful for the assistance and support they have received from family and friends, they told me during a recent telephone conversation.
The Brewer couple is “deeply humbled” by all of the help they have received, to date, Dawn said, and they are even more moved by what is happening next.
A benefit spaghetti supper and silent auction will be held for the couple from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 8, in the cafeteria at Brewer High School.
Admission is a suggested donation of $6 each or $20 for a family of four or more.
Additionally, Brewer School nutrition program director Marilyn Gould told me, donations for the silent auction will be taken right up to the time of the event, and if you have anything you would like to have included, you can call Sherry Dalton at 989-3290 for more information.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will help with expenses incurred by the Jordans as they proceed through their treatment processes.
As husband and wife deal with the double blow inflicted upon them, they are holding up remarkably well and the latest word, for both of them, is better than expected, they told me.
Ken’s chronic leukemia, as he explained it, “can’t be cured, but it is one of the less feared ones” that people often live with for a very long time, with proper treatment.
After six chemotherapy treatments since his diagnosis, Ken will have tests and scans next week to determine where he is now, he said of having started at what was stage 2 of the illness.
And, after her most recent trip to Massachusetts General Hospital, Dawn’s prognosis was much better than originally believed to be for pancreatic cancer.
“I got good news,” she said. “At first I thought the worst, but I have been told it’s less invasive and not as bad as I had thought.”
Ken and Dawn leave early in the morning for treatments at Mass. General and return the same day so she can recover from the chemo in the comfort of her own home.
“I like being home,” she said. “The next day is pretty bad, but I have a pump that Ken has learned how to work.”
That pump continues her treatment for two days “and then we FedEx it back,” Ken explained. In the meantime, Dawn is able to remain longer in her own home, and less travel is involved, which helps a great deal.
Dawn told me that she and Ken are ever so grateful to everyone who has come to their aid during this difficult time, not only individuals, family and friends who have offered financial support, but also the offers of others to do anything and everything they can to help.
“I’m just so touched,” she said while choking back tears. “It’s really amazing when people come together. You just don’t realize, when you’re doing things for others and then it’s your turn. People have been so good. I’m just so humbled by it all.”
Ken added his gratitude for the support of church members, near and far, and Dawn’s co-workers who often stop by with little “cheer-me-up gifts.”
Dawn expects to feel well enough to attend Wednesday’s event with Ken but, if you are unable to be there and would like to offer words of encouragement, you can email them at email@example.com.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; firstname.lastname@example.org; 990-8288.