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Cancer survivor turns personal struggles into fight for all touched by disease

Suzanne Hunsinger refuses to give up the fight, both for herself and others in the community.
Suzanne Hunsinger refuses to give up the fight, both for herself and others in the community.

By COLLIN BROOKS

Staff Writer

[email protected]

Suzanne Hunsinger has had her battles, but she just keeps on fighting.

On December 6, 2008, Hunsinger was diagnosed with lung cancer, despite never being a smoker. She was able to rid herself of that particular cancer with extensive chemotherapy. But  that wouldn’t be her final bout.

Over the next few years, her cancer would move from her bones to her brain and then to her spine.

“It keeps traveling and I keep fighting it,” Hunsinger said. “I have a loving support system and wonderful husband, Todd, and daughter, Casey, and that is part of the reason that I fight so hard.

“I get up in the morning and put my makeup on and try to go on with my life, even when I didn’t have hair or I didn’t feel like it. I still tried to just go on and live my life and be grateful that I have another day and time with my family.”

Hunsinger is currently cancer free, having used the help of  two brain surgeries and a spinal surgery with a Cyberknife.

“Right now it is gone, but I have been told that it will probably continue to spread and eventually the chemo will not work,” Hunsinger said. “But in the meantime, they come up with new medicine daily.”

Hunsinger openly admits to taking 36 pills a day — some prescribed and some herbal — but some of those treatments aren’t covered by insurance. That is where the Relay for Life helps people that are stricken with cancer.

Last year, the money that was raised at the Relay for Life helped  19 cancer patients in Washington County with their expenses.

“The Relay is huge,” Hunsinger said. “Like most people I wasn’t involved in the Relay for Life until it hit home for me. You don’t really think about it until it hits you, but then your whole family gets involved. It’s sad that that happens.”

Hunsinger said that the support of the friends that she has made from the Relay for Life have helped her become a better person.

“The cancer family, they all understand what you are going through,” Hunsinger said. “They have helped to bring out the fight in me. I can stand up and speak about the whole cancer experience, it’s just made me a totally different person out of me.

“I just love the Relay.”

The Relay for Life team will be front and center when the event takes place in Jonesborough on July 23. The location has been moved from downtown Jonesborough to the Storytelling Park with the opening ceremony starting at 2 p.m.