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2011: My Banner Year

January 1, 2012
By SHAUNNA DUNDER HERSHBERGER - Lifestyles Editor (sdunder@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

Last year when I said goodbye to 2010, I thought perhaps I was leaving behind the best year of my life. "How could things possibly get better?" I wondered. 2010 might have been a pretty good year, but 2011 trumped its predecessor by a landslide.

The year started off with some fantastic health news. After my January PET scan in Morgantown revealed I was in the clear and still in remission, my oncologist, Dr. Craig, made the important step of moving my scans to once every six months. This was huge. Ever since I finished treatments in June 2009, I'd been going to Morgantown once every three months for a PET scan. This scan was used in combination with a CT scan to show if there were any enlarged lymph nodes or other "hot spots" inside my body. Because of my history of relapse with Hodgkins lymphoma, Dr. Craig wanted to keep a close eye on me. Decreasing the frequency of the scans was just one step closer to a complete cure.

And how overjoyed was I by the news that I now had to make fewer visits? "Are you sure?" were the first words out of my mouth. And Dr. Craig actually admitted that he should have moved back my visits after my previous scan, but he wanted to see one more scan just to "make himself feel better."

A month later, my radiation oncologist (who I had to visit yearly just to follow up) officially released me from his care. I don't have to go back unless I need him. Not that I didn't like him or anything, but I sure hope I never have to go back! He asked me, "How are you dealing with the fact that you're cured?" Very well, thank you!

In March, Justin had a work conference in Las Vegas, and he asked me to go along. Our friends and family were convinced that we'd get married while we were out there. We pulled a joke on our Facebook friends by changing our status to "married" and simply saying nothing else. I'm not exaggerating when I say my sister texted me about 30 seconds later with, "What is this 'married' stuff I'm reading on Facebook?!"

Soon, we were inundated with congratulatory messages. We fessed up to the joke sooner rather than later after Justin received a congratulations from a college professor who had no way of knowing this might possibly be a joke. Later that same night, outside the Mirage hotel, Justin got down on one knee and proposed to me. After notifying our families and close friends, we announced our engagement on Facebook, only to be met with, predictably, responses such as, "Is this a joke too, or is it real this time?"

Unfortunately, things weren't all smiles in 2011. In February, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy in March and started chemo shortly thereafter. My sister and I found out about an annual breast cancer walk held every year in Columbus (and in many other cities around the country) called the "Race for the Cure." We decided to walk in the event in honor of our mother. We were joined by my friend I've known since kindergarten, Natalie Lampert, and my sister's neighbors, Ted and Mary Kibble. Mary herself is a breast cancer survivor, and all survivors wore a special t-shirt and received a rose at the end of the 5K.

The walk was not really a competitive walk but rather more of a stroll through downtown Columbus. This was the perfect pace to take in all the sights. I've never seen so many people in my life. There were easily several tens of thousands in attendance-the sea of people walking down the streets in front of and behind us looked so awesome. All these people, from all walks of life, united for a single cause.

One of the coolest things we saw along the route were the rows and rows of motorcyclists stretched out along both sides of the street. Many of them sat on their bikes revving their engines, while the rest of them stood in front of their bikes and high-fived people as they walked past. These were some of the burliest, manly men I've seen and they were all wearing pink! The sight actually moved Natalie to tears, it was so powerful. I am so grateful to say that I was able to be a part of something so much bigger than myself and my small problems.

On the lighter side of things, I discovered some new skills. Not only could I now cook meals and do laundry, but I also was pretty handy outside. In the spring, Justin and I tore up all the weeds in front of the house and alongside the mail box and planted tons of flowers. Two years ago, you would have never caught a germaphobe like me digging in the dirt. Shhhh! Don't tell anyone, but I actually kind of liked it. We also dug a hole in the backyard and built our own in-ground fire pit with stones we purchased. And in case you've never dug a hole before, I can honestly say it's much more physically demanding than you might think. But it was just a round hole! Maybe Justin and I are out of shape?

One of my best decisions of 2011? Taking the job as lifestyles editor at The Times Leader. I missed this place. I knew I missed it, but I didn't realize how much until I found myself back in the newsroom. This job allows me to be organized and creative-two things I think I'm pretty good at. Happiness is finding something you love to do and then getting someone to pay you to do it. I am one lucky girl.

And last, but most definitely not least, I married Justin on Nov. 12. The day was warm and sunny, and so was the ceremony. To be honest, I never thought I'd get married, but if I did, I imagined that my wedding day would turn out exactly the way things turned out on Nov. 12. I would not change one single thing-not even the small snafu with the bustle on my gown. The honeymoon in Jamaica was even better. We shared the first week of our married lives with beautiful weather, scenery and people-oh, and a dolphin named Bruno, who we got to swim belly to belly with during one of our excursions.

While 2011 created lots of memories and served as a banner year, I look forward to starting 2012. I shall dub this new year "The Year of Hershberger."

And whatever you decide to call the new year, I hope it's filled with health, happiness and many blessings.

 
 

 

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