There are good days and bad days. That’s the way it is so often at the end.

They give thanks for the good days. Days when Stephanie St. Jean can talk to her husband, Mike St. Jean. Days she can find out how he’s feeling, what he’s thinking. Days when Mike can just hold his boys at least one more time.

Those boys are too young to understand it, but Mike and Stephanie know these days will be over way too soon. The doctors have said that in no more than a couple months the brain tumor that has threatened Mike’s life for the past decade will finally do its worst, and one of the best men Stephanie has ever met will be gone.

“He can pass away any day,” she said. “Today we can talk to him. Yesterday we couldn’t. Yesterday we couldn’t get him to wake up at all, but today he’s been awake.”

Mike is still at home, in Monmouth, where he is receiving care from hospice and the ever-vigilant Stephanie, who honors daily the vow she made to love her husband in sickness until death do them part.

“I’m thankful he can be here and that I can care for him in his final days,” she said.


Being there, however, has meant not being at work. Stephanie, 30, who works at Central Maine Medical Center, used up all of her Family Medical Leave Act time when their son, Josh, was born 10 weeks ago. Mike, 43, a manager at TD Bank, has been unable to work since Aug. 25. The community has rallied around the family, which also includes the couple’s 3-year-old son, Caleb; but money is still tight. Mike and Sue Jillson, owners of Fielder’s Choice Homemade Ice Cream, are hoping to help. The Jillsons on Saturday will open their Sabattus ice cream stand to give away ice cream and take donations for the St. Jeans.

The Jillsons have scheduled the fundraiser for noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at the couple’s store in Sabattus at 637 Sabattus Road.

“I know it’s kind of weird to be making ice cream in January, but it’s supposed to be in the 20s on Saturday,” Mike Jillson said. “That’s ice cream weather now.”

The original idea was to give away the ice cream left over from the fall, which the couple usually donates. This year they thought they would take most of that ice cream — some of it had already been donated to other organizations — to hold an ice cream social to benefit the St. Jeans.

“Sue thought, ‘We have this ice cream. Why don’t we give it away and have people come and donate to Mike and Sue?'” Mike Jillson said.

The Jillsons announced the fundraiser on the Fielder’s Choice Facebook page, which has nearly 7,000 followers. The response has been overwhelming. People already have started sending in donations, and about 200 people already have confirmed they plan to attend the fundraiser. Mike Jillson said the leftover ice cream may not be enough.


“I’m going to make a few more flavors just in case,” he said.

Jillson, reluctant to attract attention to himself or his business when contacted by a reporter, was quick to downplay the importance of the fundraiser.

“The focus of this is the St. Jeans,” he said. “We know them and care about them. It’s the only way we can think of to help.”

The Jillsons met the St. Jeans about seven years ago at Community Baptist Church, where they all continue to worship. Mike St. Jean and Mike Jillson served together as church officers.

“He’s just a good guy, and I feel bad he’s in the situation that he’s in,” Jillson said. “His wife’s a super, super nice lady. They’re just a super nice family all the way around.”

Stephanie St. Jean said the ice cream social is just the latest outpouring of support from the community. Stephanie’s employers have promised her a job will be waiting for her when she’s ready to return to work, regardless of when that is. Her workplace also held a fundraiser for the family in the fall. Pro-Tech Heating gave the family a full tank of oil and the people at Community Baptist Church donated another tank. Businesses in the area have allowed Stephanie to sell the bracelets she makes. Mike’s and Stephanie’s moms, as well as Stephanie’s aunt, are helping care for the children.


“We’re thankful for all of it,” she said. “We feel very loved and blessed and grateful for all the help from the community and the support they have shown.”

Mike battled his first brain tumor in 2004. The cancer went into remission. Then he met Stephanie at a Bible study both were attending. The couple married five years ago. Caleb came along a couple of years later.

“Mike’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” Stephanie said. “He’d give anything to anybody. He loves his family and friends. He’s an amazing husband and father.”

Mike continued to be tested for signs of the cancer’s return. The tests were negative for the first couple of years they were married.

“He was in remission for a long time,” Stephanie said. “It came back in 2012 when our son was 9 months old.”

Mike underwent different types of chemotherapy. Doctors have run out of options.


“It’s not working,” Stephanie said. “His brain is very swollen.”

There is so much about which Stephanie could be angry, but there is a preternatural peace in her as she discusses the future she knows will not include the man with whom she’d hoped to grow old. It all stems, she says, from that Bible study where she and Mike first met.

“We strongly believe in God,” she said. “Our strength is coming from the Lord. He’s giving us the strength to get through each day. When it feels like we can’t, he gives us more.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby

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