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Community invited to benefit dinner for Region widow with terminal cancer

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Community invited to benefit dinner for Region widow with terminal cancer

Jessika Lile, center, sits with her two daughters, Farrah and Skylar.

LOWELL — After a hard two years, Jessika Lile was finally celebrating a milestone. 

January marked five years cancer-free after she was first diagnosed with breast cancer late 2017. Doctors worried about the cancer spreading, so Lile decided to receive a double mastectomy. After the procedure, doctors told her there was no evidence of disease, Lile said. 

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However, when she started experiencing excruciating pain in her upper body in late December, she knew something wasn’t right. At first, she said, doctors thought something was wrong with her gallbladder. A series of tests showed Lile’s cancer had returned. This time, it was metastatic, her doctor said. 

She saw the words “stage four” form on her doctor’s lips. The cancer was terminal. According to the National Cancer Institute, some doctors may say if a patient is in remission from their cancer for five years, they can consider themselves “cured.”

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“The magic number is five years for cancer patients. I got to five years and three days,” Lile said. “I was terrified.”

Lile’s friends and family are inviting the community to join them between 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday at Buddy N Pals Place in Crown Point for a benefit dinner in the family’s honor. The money raised will go toward a fund for her two young daughters and any medical expenses. Attendees can enjoy a 50/50 raffle, food, music and a silent auction. 

Lile’s friend, Adara Rivera, said she’s known her for approximately 20 years. The first word she thinks of when Lile comes to her mind: resilient.

“The things that come her way, she just manages to bounce back from everything life throws at her,” Rivera said. “She doesn’t let it alter her view on life and the world.”

Lile’s husband, Nicholas, was killed in January 2021 in their Lowell home by a off-duty veterans affairs officer who was invited to their home for drinks. Lile witnessed the incident while her daughter was asleep upstairs. The officer was convicted in November 2021 of aggravated battery and battery for the killing. 

Nicholas is the father of Lile’s youngest daughter, who will be left with no surviving parents if Lile loses her cancer battle. She said she’s worked to make every day memorable for her daughters, even while receiving regular chemotherapy treatments. 

“I’ve become really good at making lemonade out of lemons,” Lile said. 

Rivera said she and Lile have a running joke that Lile “picks up strays” in regards to the way she shows love and support to everyone, even to strangers she barely knows. 

“I don’t think you find many people like that anymore, who want to give and nurture the way she does,” Rivera said. “And that she’s still doing that, after the cards life had dealt her, that’s pretty admirable.”

Anyone who cannot attend the event can donate at gofund.me/8f93eaf4.

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