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Survivor sings in the face of cancer
Survivor’s story an inspiration during Daffodil Month
Singing may be her passion, but it also saved Vanessa Kunderman’s life.
The 23-year-old was diagnosed with cancer when she 16 — just a few years after her father died of melanoma.
"I was having some pretty intense vocal training and my coach suggested I go to the doctor because I was losing power," Kundeman said.
The Crescentwood resident is being spotlighted by the Canadian Cancer Society during Daffodil Month, when individuals are encouraged to buy yellow daffodil pins to support those living with cancer.
After an X-ray, Kunderman was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Following bouts of chemotherapy and radiation, the Red River College graduate finally learned the "tumour had totally gone" last year.
The original X-ray revealed Kunderman — a financial security advisor and singer who uses the stage name of Van Kunder — had one collapsed lung and 25% capacity in the other.
"The doctors didn’t know how I was alive, as my pulmonary function was so low. So singing saved my life, as I had a very healthy cardiovascular system due to the vocal training," she said.
Having lost her father to his unrelated cancer years before, Kunderman said her own diagnosis was surreal.
"I had to wrap my head around this thing growing inside me. I’d already been through this once with my dad, so I asked myself why this is happening again," she said, noting she wants to write a book one day.
Kunderman stressed that, in terms of chemotherapy and radiation, she was treated as a child rather than an adult.
"Adults are treated to prolong their lives, while kids are treated more aggressively, as it’s designed to cure them," she said.
Kunderman is now upbeat and positive about her experiences — not least because of the support of her mother — "mum’s really the fortress" — sister Brittany, family, friends and CancerCare Manitoba — and hopes her story can inspire others.
The singer also wants individuals to be aware of their bodies and not be afraid to go to the doctor and get minor things checked early.
"Even if you graze your elbow, get it checked out if you have any concerns, because you never know. I’d had itchy feet for years, which turned out to be a symptom of my lymphoma," she said.
April 27 is also Daffodil Day, when Manitobans are encouraged to do something special for someone living with cancer.
"Call them up, make them a meal or run an errand. Do something special to raise awareness and help the fight," said Tuxedo resident Heidi Struck, CCS Manitoba division’s fundraising co-ordinator, noting that eight Manitobans die from cancer every day.
For more information, visit www.cancer.ca. To find a pin location, or to make a donation, visit www.fightback.ca.
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(1 of 12 articles for this week)06/12/2013 1:00 AM 0
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