HAMMOND — Lake County Commissioner Mike Repay said Monday he and his wife chose not to discuss her breast cancer before her death in order to marshal their strength.
"Some people have come up and asked why we didn't tell them, but it wasn't to be mean, we just wanted to fight it, not talk about it," Repay said.
Amanda Repay, 33, of Hammond, lost that battle Friday, leaving behind her husband and their 1-year-old daughter, Vivian.
He said it was a two-year fight during which Amanda gave birth to their daughter in January 2018, continued work as a nurse at the cardio thoracic unit at the University of Chicago Medical Center and pursued a future health care career.
She received treatment for her cancer at the University of Chicago "until they ran out of treatments," her husband said. They then went to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for more advanced therapies.
He said he and Amanda got to meet former Vice President Joe Biden during Biden's October campaign swing through Lake County. He said Biden, learning Amanda was a nurse, but unaware of her cancer, began talking about how grateful he was to the nurses who have treated his family, including his son Beau Biden, who died in 2015 of cancer.
"We got very emotional talking about that," Repay said.
He said they remained optimistic that Amanda could beat her illness, until last week when he took her for an afternoon medical visit and they learned she had taken a turn for the worse.
He said he is comforted by this fact they left no stone unturned. "She had the best of what the world had to offer. I hope some day someone will find that stone," he said.
Amanda was a graduate of Munster High School's class of 2004. She received a bachelor's degree in communication at Purdue University and a bachelor's degree in nursing at Olivet Nazarene.
She was preparing to become a family nurse practitioner. She was pursuing a master's degree in nursing and was due to graduate next month.
She met her husband eight years ago after her father introduced her to Repay, a Hammond businessman who was in his first term as a Lake County councilman. He has been a Lake County commissioner since 2013.
Visitation for Amanda is from 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Kish Funeral Home, 10000 Calumet Ave., Munster. There will be a memorial Mass at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. John Bosco Church, 7113 Columbia Ave., Hammond. Internment will be private.
The family is accepting contributions to support Vivian's education and asks that donations — in lieu of flowers — be made to the Ronald McDonald House, 5444 S. Drexel St., Chicago.