The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - 68

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68

JULY/AUGUST 2019

Hunsaker has also been working
with nonprofits like United Way
of Roanoke Valley, coaching those
who've received services from the
organization to tell what it means to
them.
Hunsaker has been reborn as a
story midwife.
"It's been a crooked path to get here.
But this feels exactly right," she says
of the work she's doing now. "And I
never dreamed that I could have that
feeling."
Yet not even her success, or her 10
cancer-free years, have completely
erased the worry that her cancer
might return. Whenever she sees her
scars, it takes her back.
"They're like Frankenstein scars,"
she says. "It's just such a physical
reminder. There's always a little bit of
a distrust there, you know? My body
turned on me."

JONATHAN SHAFFER

If Knight leaned in to her diagnosis,
LEE HUNSAKER ran in the opposite
direction.
She was 38, living in Austin, Texas,
with a new husband, a 19-month-old
baby boy and a successful career in
movie costume design.
But after her cancer diagnosis, after
months of chemotherapy, surgery,
radiation, after being too overwhelmed
and afraid to show up as wife and
mother, everything about her old life
felt too connected to the cancer.
"I started associating all of the
roads with the road to the doctor. My
bedroom reminded me of being so
nauseous I couldn't sit up," Hunsaker
remembers. "I felt like I had to get out
of there. Immediately. Using whatever
means possible."
So she fled. To her hometown. To
the beauty of the mountains.
She arrived in Roanoke in 2011 with
no idea what she wanted to do with
the life she had fought so hard to keep.
It was storytelling that saved her.
Hunsaker had been invited to be
keynote speaker at a breast cancer
event in Austin before she left. She
found that sharing her truth became
an important part of her healing.
"It gave me some power back, to
have a voice," she says.
She led a few workshops with
cancer survivors where she asked them
to write love letters to their bodies and
then read their work aloud.
Nurturing those women encouraged
Hunsaker to start a live storytelling
event she called Hoot And Holler:
Our Stories. Out Loud. The concept
was to reach out to everyone and
encourage them to speak their story.
She held the first at Sweet Donkey
Coffee House in October 2016. Three
years later, monthly Hoot And Holler
shows regularly sell out the Grandin
Theatre and 5 Points Music Sanctuary.

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The Roanoker - July/August 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - July/August 2019

The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Intro
The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Cover1
The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Cover2
The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - 3
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The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - V1
The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - V2
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The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Cover3
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