Editor's note: The Daily Times Rewind series revisits stories we have reported on over the past year. To read more rewind stories, go to daily-times.com.
FARMINGTON — On June 10, Patty Gunnell received news that she had breast cancer.
Knowing chemotherapy would cause her hair to fall out, she chose to preemptively shave her head. In August, her family and friends gathered at Head Shop in Farmington to show their support by joining her in shaving their heads.
On Dec. 10, Gunnell finished her eighth chemotherapy treatment and has been declared cancer free. Later this month, she will start six weeks of radiation treatment.
"It's been a memorable, emotional year," Gunnell said of 2013.
Yet, despite cancer, she said it has been one of the best years of her life.
"I have looked at a few (Facebook) statuses from a few of my friends who have cancer, and they're like 'This is the worst year of my life,' and I can't say that," Gunnell said.
She said the year has brought her family closer together, and it's brought them closer to God.
And, this year, Gunnell was able to do something she never thought she would be able to do in New Mexico -- marry her wife, Ashley Gunnell.
When Doña Ana County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in August, the couple, who live in Crouch Mesa, drove more than six hours to Las Cruces to get married.
Ashley Gunnell said the couple was excited when gay marriage was legalized throughout the state earlier this month, and they feel like they were part of the movement that made it possible.
"We were able to be part of New Mexico seeing that love is love," she said.
Because of the financial burden and time constraints of Patty Gunnell's cancer treatment, the wives could not go on a honeymoon. Patty Gunnell said they are planning on taking a honeymoon this spring either to California or New York.
So far, the most difficult part of the journey for the women has been Patty Gunnell's chemotherapy-induced nausea. Patty Gunnell said she took hash oil pills, which are made from marijuana plants, to prevent vomiting. The Gunnells had to pay for the pills out-of-pocket.
Saturday was the first day Patty Gunnell didn't have to take the pill.
"There's nothing worse than watching people be sick all the time and knowing there's nothing you can do about it," Ashley Gunnell said.
Although she said she felt helpless, Ashley Gunnell never left her wife's side. And that -- as well as the couple's positive outlook and confidence in their relationship -- has helped Patty Gunnell through the treatment.
"I don't have breasts," said Patty Gunnell, who had a double mastectomy as part of her cancer treatment. "I don't have hair, and that's OK."
She said she hasn't decided whether or not to undergo breast reconstruction, but she is leaning toward avoiding the surgery.
"My wife doesn't mind and I don't mind," she said.
In addition to supporting each other, Ashley and Patty Gunnell said they have received a lot of support from the community.
"I have found myself just humbled with gratitude that so many people care," Patty Gunnell said.
The Breast Cancer Society paid for some of her medical expenses, and members from the community helped both financially and emotionally.
While Ashley Gunnell said she would have stayed with her wife no matter what happened, she was relieved when they found out Patty Gunnell was cancer free.
"She's been a soldier," Ashley Gunnell said. "She fought like hell and won in the end."
The experience has taught Patty Gunnell a lot. She said she now understands why so much money is spent on cancer awareness.
"Cancer is such a big deal because it changes lives," she said.