PORT ANGELES — One day last spring, at age 21, Dan Spicher suffered such intense chest pain that he and his wife, Jessie, thought he was dying of a heart attack.
At the hospital, after X-rays, doctors told the Spichers the cause of his pain: Just below his heart lay a tumor, one of many indicating stage four Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Dan and Jessie were, at the time of the diagnosis in mid-June, still newlyweds.
Three years after they met while working the night shift as inserters at the Peninsula Daily News, they married Aug. 14, 2010.
Last weekend, they celebrated their first wedding anniversary with a gift from a friend: an overnight stay at The Resort At Port Ludlow — “which is amazing,” said Jessie. “We went kayaking and had an amazing five-star meal.”
Fundraiser on Saturday
Then, it was back to chemotherapy treatments at Olympic Medical Cancer Center in Sequim and preparations for a spaghetti-and-auction benefit Saturday at the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 W. Fourth St.
The event, organized by friends of the Spichers who call themselves the Angels for Dan, aims to raise funds for the couple’s medical and living expenses, since Dan has had to leave his recently landed job at Westport Shipyard.
Admission to the dinner and auction is $10, while children age 5 and younger will be admitted free. To reserve tickets in advance, phone 360-457-9766.
Life since the diagnosis, Jessie said this week, has been “quite the emotional and physical ride.”
The chemo, administered every other week, makes Dan very ill.
But his wife is upbeat about Saturday’s event, to run from 6 p.m. until 10:30 p.m.
“We have some great news to share with everyone that evening, and some really amazing gifts and items for people to bid on,” Jessie wrote in an email.
“Come have dinner with us, and chat with us.”
Jessie, at 26, has faced more than her share of sadness.
In 2000, when she was 14, her mother died. Then on Aug. 5 of that year, her father, Clallam County Sheriff’s Deputy Wally Davis, was shot to death in the line of duty.
She and Dan started out as friends before they became a couple.
Dan found work as a laminator at Westport, while Jessie has established her own housecleaning business, Maid to Perfection.
She is also a singer and worship team leader at the Crossing Church at Deer Park Road and U.S. Highway 101 just east of Port Angeles.
And Dan, who marked his 22nd birthday Aug. 8, serves as a Sunday school teacher when he’s feeling well enough.
For the sunrise service Easter Sunday at Civic Field, Jessie sang the Nicole C. Mullen song “Redeemer.”
Michelle Maike, who for the past 11 years has been like a mother to Jessie, jokes that she’s the “archangel” among the Angels for Dan.
These angels are “a wonderful group of women,” she added, who have gathered a night full of gifts.
After the spaghetti dinner Saturday, the silent and live auctions will lay out for bidding two Kenmore Air round-trip tickets between Port Angeles and Seattle, a Northwest Expeditions cruise out of Port Angeles Harbor, a trip for two to Victoria, a half-day of kayaking or mountain biking from Adventures in Kayaking, 18 holes of golf for four players at the Cedars at Dungeness and a Zoom teeth-whitening treatment from Irwin Dental.
Then there are front-row seats at a Seattle Seahawks game, handmade quilts, beauty treatments and gift certificates from local shops such as Country Aire Natural Foods.
“We’re good,” Maike said of the Angels for Dan.
“We really just want to have a celebration,” she added, “and help the kids in the coming months to get through this crisis.”
Maike said, too, that Dan, even when reeling from a chemo session, is keeping his sense of humor.
She believes his chances of going into remission are excellent.
Jessie, for her part, called the Angels’ outpouring of help “a miracle.”
She expressed gratitude for the support she and Dan have received — from friends and from strangers who have given gifts for the Angels’ fundraiser.
“I’ve lived in Port Angeles all my life,” Maike said.
Of the event Saturday, she added: “This is what Port Angeles is about.”
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.