Life can change in one tough month
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. In one week, Geni Hunder will lose her hair.Chemotherapy can do that. Doctors say there’s no stopping the hair loss, no matter how much she dreads the thought.Just one more week.”I’m really nervous about it, self-conscious about it,” said Hunder, sitting on a black couch in her quiet Silt home. “I’m a girl. Girls aren’t supposed to be bald.”Despite inevitable hair loss, Hunder keeps a positive attitude about her cancer diagnosis that came on Feb. 12.Just two days after her 30th birthday.
Hunder’s first symptom was a swollen and sore neck. But it proved to be more than an irritation.”At first they thought I had lymphoma. They did an ultrasound and found the lump in my lymph node and a blood clot,” she said. “On Feb. 14, I had surgery and they took two thirds of my lymph node. Within 10 minutes they had already sent it off to be biopsied. They came back and said, ‘Yes, it’s cancer, but no, it’s not lymphoma. It came from somewhere else.'”
On Feb. 26, Hunder underwent a complete hysterectomy, a surgery that removed her uterus and ovaries. A single mother of a teenager, Hunder said the surgery was a mutual decision between herself and her doctors.”My daughter’s 13, and I’m not going to start over,” she said. “If that’s where (the cancer) is, I wanted to take care of it.”Hunder has three incisions from the surgeries she’s endured in the past month. She feels fortunate that common side effects of chemo – nausea, vomiting, fatigue – haven’t plagued her during weekly treatments at Western Slope Oncology in Glenwood Springs.”I haven’t spent a lot of time in the general public,” Hunder said. “I’m usually tired at the end of the week. My muscles feel bruised, and I can’t sleep at night. I’ll lay there for hours. It feels like I’m constantly catching the flu.”She hasn’t had but a couple of bad days, but Hunder admits the gravity of her diagnosis hasn’t sunk in – quite yet.”I’m still trying to gather all the information,” she said. “The first day when I saw my oncologist, I didn’t want anyone around. And there was one other bad day after that.”
Hunder doesn’t dwell on bad days.Her daughter, Dayna, is mostly on her mind. Hunder describes having cancer as horrible, but insists it’s not as bad as it sounds.”I’m trying to keep it together for my daughter. I don’t want her to worry,” she said. “It’s scary. It’s very scary. But I feel you have to have a positive attitude for the most favorable outcome. It sounds much worse than it really is.”Support from family, friends, her employer, Gould Construction, and the community helps Hunder cope when thoughts of mounting medical bills fill her mind.She knows her five-day stay at the hospital will cost well over $5,000.Just recently, she received a $600 radiology bill.”It’s been really emotional as far as the amount of donations and help I’ve received. I find myself crying a lot – not because I’m upset. More for the amazement and gratitude,” she said. “I did not ask for anything that’s happening but I’m not going to turn it away, because I need it.”The mothers of Dayna’s two best friends, Karen Chacon and Angela Meraz, have organized a dinner-dance benefit from 5-9 p.m. Saturday at the school.”We thought we should do something,” Chacon said. “All this just happened within the last month. It just snowballed in the last month.”Saturday’s benefit will help. And so do the prayers Hunder appreciates as she endures chemo treatments.In the coming week, Hunder plans on buying more hats. And her mom’s friend in Arizona bought her a wig she figures she’ll be wearing soon.With or without hair, attitude is everything for Geni Hunder.Contact April Clark: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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