By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer
College memories are often crisp and beautiful.
Jill Huse is giving back.
The Enquirer/STEVEN M. HERPPICH
Vibrant autumn leaves, cheering on a football team and deep philosophical discussions over coffee long into the night.
Jill Huse remembers it as the time she got cancer.
Huse eventually beat Hodgkin's disease and now the 29-year-old woman is giving back to the community through work with the Southern Ohio chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
The Florence resident is one of 10 competitors in the local Man and Woman of the Year fund-raiser. The competition lasts eight weeks, during which participants individually raise as much money as they can for the charity.
This year's local competition, with a goal of raising $120,000, concludes tonight with a silent auction and gala dinner at the Phoenix.
Participants have a multitude of reasons for getting involved, said campaign coordinator Melissa Herman.
IF YOU GO
What: The Man and Woman of the Year grand finale celebration.
When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. today.
Where: The Phoenix, 812 Race St., downtown.
"They are community leaders. They are individuals who have had a personal experience. They are people who have had loved ones who passed away," Herman said.
"And they are people who just want to help."
Huse has raised about $1,500 through a date auction, an art viewing at the Weston Art Gallery and two fund-raisers at the downtown law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease, where she is marketing director.
"Being a survivor of cancer myself, I thought I could raise more money than the typical person," she said.
In 1994, Huse was 19 and a sophomore at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale when she began having repeated health problems, including night sweats and fevers.
She was misdiagnosed several times before doctors said they had determined the cause - appendicitis. During surgery, however, the real problem - a 10-inch tumor in her abdomen - was discovered.
That's when Huse was diagnosed with Hodgkin's. The news came less than two years after Huse's father died of lung cancer.
Through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Huse stayed in school and let few people know about her cancer.
"I was nauseous a lot. I was tired a lot. But I was young, so I could sustain going to class and going out sometimes," Huse said. "It was very important to me to stay as normal as possible."
That included keeping up appearances even as she lost her hair to chemotherapy.
She had to bite her tongue as friends fretted about happy hours, clothes and boyfriend troubles.
"You get to be resentful of your friends because they're worried about such trivial things," she said. "But on some superficial level, I wanted to worry about those things too."
In June 1996, more traces of the cancer were found. Huse came to Cincinnati for a bone marrow transplant.
Throughout the process, Huse was told that her chances of conceiving a child would be slim.
Huse and her husband, Jim, had been married for about six months when they decided to try to have a baby. One month later, Huse was pregnant.
Son Nathan was born Dec. 10.
Just a couple months after Nathan's birth, Huse started her fund raising for the Man and Woman of the Year competition.
"I felt compelled to do what I could," she said. "Even if I don't win, it's an awesome charity.
"It's a win-win situation."
Miami U. leads the way in local graduation rates
Graduation rates bleak, but NKU has a plan
Fox faces ethics complaint
Dark days gone, now Amber can shine
Rats emerging from sewers rattle Delhi
IN THE TRISTATE
False burglar alarms plummet after fines start
Suspect indicted in stabbing death of Hamilton man
Sycamore, CCD plays win
Gun-training charges dropped after being filed in wrong court
Taping of 'Cops' angers some on city council
DeWine offers plan to crack down on landlord violations
Drake Center levy criticized
Mom gets year for giving kids alcohol, drugs
Fenwick ceremony to honor dead teens
Lakota selects two principals, one assistant
Commission backs custody policy
Teacher's memorial her own design
Norwood official sees levy going down
Bingo bill compromise reached to help small clubs cover costs
Bill aims to require mottoes in schools
Concrete or asphalt? Only time will tell
Bill looks to ease schools' fears of discipline suits
Lawmakers voting on electronic slots
Public safety briefs
St. Vivian group seeks pastor's dismissal
W. Chester to pay schools
Woodlawn police face inquiry
Cancer survivor helping others
Crowley: Consultant's campaigns go swimmingly
Bronson: War on drugs won't be won with handout
Good Things Happening
Stubby Fouts' voice a legend
Beer- for-vote case goes to jury
Callahan to urge another budget try
Death in Devou Park a mystery
Student portfolios under fire