Cyndi MacMaster got a tough diagnosis last week: the cervical cancer from two years ago had recurred and spread into other organs.

The 36-year-old Dresden mother of three and wife of Richmond Police Chief Scott MacMaster took stock of her options. Then she resigned from her job at Maine Rural Water Association in Richmond and began to interview naturopathic doctors.

“It’s spread to my liver and some other areas in my abdomen, and it’s not treatable with chemotherapy and any conventional methods,” she said. Now, with conventional methods unavailable, she’s talking to various natural healers. “I’m just seeing what all is out there and trying to make a plan,” she said.

Unconventional methods generally are not covered by insurance, so her sister Corina Gilbert, of Mercer, set up a crowd-funding site,

www.gofundme.com/macmaster, for donations, telling the story of MacMaster and her family.

Gilbert is very direct in her appeal: “I’m asking for your help (to) make this Christmas with their three boys a memorable one.”

The plea has hit home. The donations, in amounts of $10 to $100, have came from 597 people in four days and totaled more than $35,000 by Sunday evening.

The gofundme account has other goals as well. “Her family’s finances were completely exhausted with the first battle with cancer,” Gilbert said. “It’s only a year that she was healthy before this. There’s nothing to fall back on. She has nothing to leave her children.”

While the initial goal was $30,000, it was soon increased. “When we learned one type of medical treatment might be $30,000, we said let’s try to go to $40,000 so that money isn’t a determining factor in choosing a treatment,” Gilbert said.

Then there’s money needed for travel for treatment and to care for the children.

Gilbert, 38, who is the elder sister, said she and MacMaster went through the ordinary sibling rivalry as children while growing up in Anson. “Since we have been adults, we’ve been very close,” Gilbert said.

There’s a younger brother in Montana, and their father lives in Carrabassett Valley. Their mother died of cancer in 2011, a year before MacMaster’s diagnosis.

MacMaster had been doing well after treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation for the cancer last time.

“I had been cleared of that as recently as last month,” she said, speaking from her home.

But she knew something was wrong; she hadn’t felt right.

“I had been feeling just worse and worse over the past few months,” she said. “They did some blood work from my liver, an ultrasound and a CAT scan and found it had ultimately taken over.”

While she said she is physically exhausted, she’s mentally strong.

“My internal energy is really great,” MacMaster said. “I’m full of ideas and determination.”

Friends, family and people who’ve only read about her on the Web are rooting for her as well.

“I am overwhelmed by what people have done,” MacMaster said Thursday, the first day the gofundme site went live. Annabella’s Bakery & Cafe in Richmond set up donation jar, and a parent-teacher group and various police and fire departments are planning fundraisers.

All tips for December at the Red Barn Restaurant in Augusta will be donated to the family. A benefit luncheon organized by Scott Penney is set for Dec. 21 at Gardiner Area High School with seatings at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and the Bowdoin and Richmond fire departments are sponsoring a benefit supper Jan. 31, with the time and place to be announced later.

“I am beyond words with gratefulness and appreciation and feeling so blessed with all these people trying to help us,” MacMaster said. “It is so heartwarming; it’s really healing. It’s amazing.”

In the meantime, her three young sons, Jake, 12, Parker, 7 and Tripp, 5, are doing well. “They’re all amazing boys to begin with,” she said. “They’re positive, they’ve got good vibes, they staying happy and saying their prayers.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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