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A Success Story - Christine Dunne

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Christine Dunne

 Christine has graduated from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, majoring in Elementary and Special Education.  Christine's cancer experience has changed her outlook on life and helped her realize that she wants to make an impact in the lives of children with disabilities, just as her teachers reached out to her over the years.  She has survived Retinoblastoma (cancer of the retina).  In her own words:

“Over nineteen years ago, my world was turned upside down, even though I was much too young to understand what was going on.  At just five months old, I was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, cancer in my eye. Only a couple of days after my diagnosis, my parents were told that I would need to have my left eye removed.  I wear a prosthesis and I have no vision in my left eye. 

Growing up, I was always aware that I was different than everyone else in my house, school and neighborhood.  When I was younger, kids would always come up to me and ask what was wrong with my eye since my prosthesis would not move; or they would notice when one pupil was larger than the other.  This would always make me very self-conscious, and made me more aware of my limitations.  However, I believe that these situations have transformed me into a stronger person and have helped me become the person that I am today. 

Since my vision is limited to one eye, I have no depth perception.  Due to this, I have had to adapt and learn some things in life more slowly than others: climbing stairs, seeing the board in class, and learning to play the violin.  Since I realize just how lucky I am to still have my vision (even though it is limited), my compassion for others who are disabled or less privileged than I am has greatly increased my desire to be involved in service opportunities to help others. 

In high school, I participated in the Key Club, which helps people with needs in the community.  I was also a volunteer swim coach, working with kids from 5 to 8 years of age.  At Bradley University, I was involved with a community service sorority called Epsilon Sigma Alpha.  Our chapter holds fundraisers to help St. Jude Children's Hospital.  I also served as treasurer for Bradley University's newly started CureSearch, which raises money to help fund research to find a cure for children's cancers.  I believe that my experience with cancer has made me more aware of these groups and more willing and compassionate to help! 

Since I was small, I always knew that I wanted to be in a career where I would make a difference in someone's life, and I always thought that teaching would be one of the best ways to accomplish that.  I remember how much it meant to me when my teachers accepted me for me, and I am forever grateful for that.  They would make adjustments in their seating charts so that I was able to see and not miss what was going on in the classroom.  I hope to be like the teachers who gave me a chance and impacted my life.  I believe that something as small as a smile or a simple act of caring can change a student's entire outlook on life.  I strive to be that person.  I want to go to bed at night knowing that I did something right. 

As I continue my education, I am currently majoring in Special Education as well as Elementary Education.  I believe I will be very effective in this field.  I believe this is a career in which I would be able to make a difference in someone's life; the same way that my teachers have made a difference in my life. 

My past has made me the person I am today.  I am very happy with who I am.  I am proud of the community service clubs and activities that I have been involved in.  I hope that I have left a positive mark or impact in the lives of those I have touched.  I certainly believe my Retinoblastoma has changed my outlook on life, and it has definitely influence my decision to go into the world of education. 

I would like to extend a special Thank You to Cancer Survivors' Fund for standing by my side and encouraging me as I encourage others.  I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for me!”

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