Christine Pabst and her family received a special gift this year.
Six months after being diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the cancer that attacks the body s white blood cells went into remission.
The 33-year-old Gahanna resident struggled with a persistent cough in the spring and early summer and took several rounds of antibiotics prescribed by her doctor.
"Nothing seemed to kick it," she said.
It wasn't until after she and husband Chris Pabst returned from a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida with their children, Ella, 4, and Jack, 8, that she asked for more help.
"I felt the worst I'd felt when we were in Florida," she said.
Christine went to a pulmonologist, who took a chest X-ray and a full-body scan.
"There were spots everywhere," she said. "It was in my abdomen and had spread to my lungs, which is what made it stage 4."
Christine was diagnosed in June. She went through six rounds of chemotherapy and lost all of her hair, but she never lost her spirit or the drive to stay alive.
According to the National Cancer Institute's website, adult Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer that forms in part of the body's immune system, often in the body's lymph system.
Adult non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is "a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the lymph system," the institute's website states.
The symptoms of adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma include painless swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, stomach or groin; fever that isn't associated with other illness; night sweats; fatigue; weight loss; a skin rash or itchy skin; and pain in the chest, abdomen or bones, according to the institute's website.
Christine works for Cameron Mitchell restaurants four days a week. She said she cut her hours to two days a week during treatments, but she never missed a day of work. Neither did Chris, who is a lieutenant with the Plain Township Fire Department in New Albany.
During the Plain Township Fire Department awards ceremony Dec. 11, Christine received another present from Fire Chief John Hoovler and Assistant Chief Jack Rupp, who presented her with the 2013 Fire Chief's Award.
"Firefighters are a pretty brave bunch," Hoovler told the crowd during the ceremony. "They run into burning buildings and try to save lives and property.
"But they don't have the courage that she does. It takes toughness and tenacity to do what she's done."
Christine received a standing ovation when she received the award, and she thanked all of the firefighters and their families who were present.
"I couldn't have done it without all of your support," she said. "We didn't need for anything during this time."
Chris thanked his co-workers after receiving a perfect-attendance award.
"It's hard to catch all of you, so I want to tell everyone that I appreciate all you've done for us," he said.
Christine said she didn't have to cook for five months because firefighters and their families brought food to their house nearly every night.
"Whatever I needed was taken care of," she said.
Plain Township firefighters supported Chris at work by wearing bright yellowish-green T-shirts designed by the firefighters, with a logo recognizing Christine's fight against lymphoma. They wore the shirts to work the day before and the day after her treatments, Chris said.
Rupp recognized the couple's "significant strength," mentioning the fact that both continued to work during their struggle.
"I think that says a lot about both of them," Rupp said.
Chris said Christine will be checked by a doctor every three months for the next two years. After that, she'll have to go twice a year. If her reports are good, she'll have to see the doctor only once a year.
He said if she receives clean scans for five years, the doctors could declare the cancer cured.