“I want people to know that everything that happens to you in your life will make you a better person, even cancer,” says Caroline Dunn. “The longer you mope, the longer you’ll be stuck in the mope. Having a positive mindset is huge to not only recovering but actually thriving.”
Sage words from a young cancer survivor. In December 2021, at age 14, Caroline was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Now, one year into a potentially three-year chemotherapy regimen, Caroline is looking forward to doing all the things that a typical 15-year-old is ready to do, like picking a college and driving a car by herself. “I just want to get through this and have a future,” continues Caroline, “I’m enjoying the time to sit back and think about what I want to do, and then I’m going to do it!”
Caroline knew something was wrong before she was diagnosed with Leukemia. Random bruising and feeling “gross” left her with an uneasy feeling that her health was declining. One day, she called her mom from school and asked for a blood test. When her mom took her to the pediatrician, Caroline was told she was depressed and should talk with someone or start depression medication. Luckily, the doctor did a finger prick blood test which confirmed Caroline’s suspicions: something was terribly wrong.
“My initial cancer diagnosis was a relief. Finally, I knew what was wrong with me. But I immediately wondered how the chemotherapy would affect me short term, and what my life would look like long term. I was a competitive gymnast, and I knew that I would need to quit so that I could heal."
Luckily, ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation was there to guide Caroline and her family through her diagnosis, treatment, and remission.
“I’m so grateful for donors to ASK. Sometimes I feel like people assume that someone else will help or donate. I want everyone to know that we all need to actively do something to help!”
And Caroline is willing to pitch in herself. She and her mom produced a video to encourage people to donate blood. Caroline was denied blood twice when VCU Health System was critically low on blood.
"I don’t know what we would have done without the gift cards for food and gas, presents at Christmas, emotional support through counseling for me and my siblings, and all the programs and services that ASK provides to every family. I will be forever thankful for everything they’ve done for us." - ASK Kid Caroline
“Katie, the Child Life Specialist in the ASK Clinic, is one of my favorite people in the world,” gushes Caroline. “All of the people associated with ASK have been so kind and supportive of not only me, but my whole family. I don’t know what we would have done without the gift cards for food and gas, presents at Christmas, emotional support through counseling for me and my siblings, and all the programs and services that ASK provides to every family. I will be forever thankful for everything they’ve done for us."
“Nothing that happens to you defines who you are as a person or how you will be identified for the rest of your life," Caroline continues. "You can make a difference in this world, and that will determine how people know you and remember you.”