Public Invited To Give Cancer The Boot For Hawley School Teacher

Hawley Elementary School teacher Stephanie Dunshee is fighting cancer, and her friend Renee Wilson wants to help. Ms Wilson has established a fundraising effort through her business, Total Performance Sports & Fitness, which is donating 100 percent of proceeds for members and nonmembers who attend certain boot camp workout sessions.

The program began in late April, and continues daily until June 29. Weekday classes run for one hour, with the following schedule: Monday and Wednesday, starting at 9:30 am, 4:30 pm, and 6:30 pm; and Tuesday and Thursday, beginning at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm. Weekend classes are 75 minutes each, on Saturday starting at 8 am and 1 pm, and Sunday at 2 pm. The gym is at 31 Pecks Lane.

Cost is $10 per class ($5 for Total Fitness members). A package of ten sessions is $60 ($30 members). Fees can be paid at the door; call 203-364-7711 for additional information.

Online registration for classes can also be done online.

Ms Wilson said that boot camp guests can work with an instructor to use equipment both indoors and outside. Part of the fitness goals she promotes include shocking the body into working harder and burning fat, she said. Fitness workouts are “geared toward an athletic edge.”


Meet Stephanie Dunshee

Through her colleagues’ eyes, Stephanie Dunshee is many positive things. Fourth grade teacher Michael Wight said, “Stephanie is a caring, dedicated teacher and friend who puts others, especially the students, ahead of herself. It is nice to see the community coming together to support her in her time of need as she battles cancer.”

Melissa Thorpe, who also teaches fourth grade, called Ms Dunshee “one of the strongest people I know. 

“She has battled stage 4 breast cancer for five years and still always has a smile on her face,” said Ms Thorpe. “She is such a wonderful mother, wife, daughter, sister, teacher, colleague, and friend. Stephanie always says all of the love and support surrounding her help her through times, so fundraisers like this are so appreciated.”

Kindergarten teacher Deborah Lubin Pond is also complimentary.

“Stephanie is a very strong, inspirational lady whose endless determination and positive spirit bring happiness and hope to all around her,” she said. “She is loved dearly by her Hawley family.”

In January, Ms Dunshee wrote a story, “My Luck.”

It begins: “I always joke that I am the most unlucky person you will ever meet.”

Although promising not to “bore you with all the stories of bad luck,” Ms Dunshee shared a few, recounting car accidents, injuries, and broken bones.

She talks about getting married and wearing a sling for a fractured shoulder “right up until the wedding.”

She then wrote about her diagnosis: “Just when it seemed I would have my happily ever after — I just had my first child, we just bought a house, everything was going wonderfully — I started to feel a pain under my right arm.” She was diagnosed six years ago with stage IV breast cancer. Her son Gabe was 4 months old at the time. “My world came crashing down,” she said.

She then looked at her luck in another way. “But looking back, I realize that, although I felt unlucky, maybe I was the luckiest girl in the world. I know that may seem a stretch, but let me explain...”

 She talks about meeting her husband Bob, “Blue Eyes,” in college, “and our love story began and continues to this day. October 2, 1999 will always be the day that God gave me someone that would always be there to hold my hand, hold my heart, and carry me when I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore.” She had always known that her husband “would be there if I needed him. And through this diagnosis, there has not been one time where he has wavered in his love and support. So that makes me pretty lucky.”

She and her husband had “almost put off having a child for a year before finally deciding to start our family early. I, luckily, got pregnant on the first try, and luckily it was an easy pregnancy. Maybe I remember incorrectly, but I remember loving every minute of it.” She said, “If we had waited the year, there is a good chance I would not have my son. I was told after my diagnosis that I should not have any more children. So I look at Gabriel, my little angel, every day and know that he was meant to be in my life. I was meant to be his mother. And that makes me the luckiest girl in the world.”

She is aware that it would be easy “to throw myself daily pity parties and give up on life. After all, the thought of all the dreams I will never see come true is constantly on my mind. But as easy as that would be, it wouldn’t help me or my family.

“So I am going to choose to find the luck that I have experienced in my life. I am going to search out all the memories I have of happiness and love. And I am going to write them down, so that when I want to throw that pity party (which by the way I feel I am entitled to once in a while) I can look back on how lucky I really am.”

She wants Gabe and Bob and family and friends to know “how much they mean to me — how they have touched my life. I want to let them know that they are the ones who make me lucky, who help me see the sun shining through the clouds. So this is my attempt to write down how I feel, to share stories that I want to remember, to show my family and friends that they are my heroes, my angels, my luck.”

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