HEBRON — Nearly a year after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, Amy Richard said she is “hanging in there.”

“I’m not as strong as I was. I’ve lost some weight,” she said. “But my scans have been stable, so that’s good news. And I’m getting into some advocacy work.”

Richard, 42, is a wife, mother of two young children and a nurse who works with lung cancer patients. She was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, caused by a genetic mutation, last January.

A story about her plight and the support she received from the community appeared in the Sun Journal in March.

Since then, Richard has continued to use a new gene-targeting therapy she battled her health insurance company over. Physically, she’s very tired, in a lot of pain, not sleeping well.

“Not a fun ride,” Richard said. “I think a lot of it is just the exertion from breathing. It takes a lot out of me.”

A nurse at Central Maine Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery in Lewiston, she’s working part time. Her husband, Chris, has taken over a lot of household duties because she can’t do it.

But Richard has participated in a public service announcement to raise awareness about radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. She’s started alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and reiki, and has changed her diet. Her condition is stable.

In the year since her diagnosis, friends, family and community members have continued to rally around her. After the Celebration of Courage Co-ed Hockey Tournament was held in her honor in March, two more fundraisers were held for her – a golf tournament and a softball tournament.

She’s used the proceeds to pay for medical bills, alternative therapies not covered by insurance and a chiropractor for her back spasms.

Her co-workers adopt a family every Christmas. This year, they adopted hers, complete with gifts for her 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

“My co-workers are amazing,” she said. “I swear, it was like a Hallmark Christmas movie.”

It’s been, she said, “overwhelming in a good way.”

“I cannot believe all the support from everybody in the community,” she said.

That support has gone beyond money, and she’s grateful for that, too.

“I just want to say a huge thank-you to everyone who’s sent me messages just to check in. … Someone reaching out and saying, ‘How are you doing? How are you really doing?’ ” she said. “Because I was in denial, I think, for a good many months about this. This fall it hit me that this is really happening. It’s been hard. It’s been kind of a rough fall. I think it would have been a lot tougher if I didn’t have the support of everybody: family, friends, co-workers, strangers, people I don’t even know.”

Lindsay Tice can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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