In 2012, Cindy Lepley was diagnosed with colon cancer and had surgery. The surgeon thought he got it all, but two years later, the cancer had metastasized to her liver; so, she had to undergo chemotherapy.
“Being on chemotherapy was a challenge,” said Cindy. “A friend of mine, Maryam Mermey, an expressive arts therapist, helped me learn how to use art to help me deal with the nausea and feel better.”
“Dr. Kelly Mechling, the Narrative Ninja of Thomas College, taught me how to use words and narratives to promote healing.”
Cindy said she was so thankful for her friends – and for her husband Doug, three daughters, three sons-in-law, and six grandchildren – who helped her remain positive and enjoy life, even when times were difficult.
And, surprisingly, working at Thomas College has contributed to her health.
“My oncologist believes that how I feel about my job and the people I work with is what helps to keep me healthy,” said Cindy. “When I was first diagnosed, people would ask me when I was going to retire (and, to this day, still do). I hate that question. For those of us who love what we are doing, we want to continue for as long as we can. Sitting around and dwelling on health problems would not be fun or healthy for me.”
Cindy has been the College Chaplain since 1987, a professor at Thomas since 1989, and began the Psychology program at Thomas in 2001. Her husband Doug has been a professor at Thomas since 1978.
“My work is not a job or a career, but a calling that gives me a sense of meaning and purpose which, in turn, makes me happy.”
Cindy loves working at Thomas College because it is her family.
“We enjoy our times with faculty at lunch and other times when we can get together. We still have contact with students from the past,” said Cindy. “Because I have done many weddings for students over the years, we have enjoyed getting to know their families and feel very welcomed into their families.”
Cindy said she loves hearing from her students about their successes after they graduate.
“I am so very proud of them. It’s like having lots of grandkids to brag about.”
Outside of work, Cindy has served as a minister at the Winslow Congregational Church and has volunteered in many places over the years, including the Waterville Homeless Shelter, MaineGeneral, and Waterville Hospice.
Cindy also loves to play. She loves hiking, kayaking, watching her grandkids play soccer, and playing soccer with her grandkids. She also found a love for karate. She earned a first-degree black belt and was a sensei who taught karate.
“We all have obstacles in life and things that knock us down, but we can continue to rise up and try again,” said Cindy. “He did this to the last moment of his life, and I will try to do the same.”