Making the most of a bad situation, husband and wife team of Nicole and Chris Dunne give back, raising funds and awareness amidst a rare cancer diagnosis
Newfoundlanders Chris and Nicole Dunne understanding the importance of time. It is that ever precious commodity all of us want and crave, despite it being the most fleeting of all things.
What we do with our time is important – trivial to some, but crucial to others. For Nicole and Chris, giving back comes naturally, and is the best use of the time they have together as husband and wife.
A new treatment
Nicole is in the midst of her second battle with chordoma, a rare type of cancer that occurs in the bones of the skull base and spine. She is the first female chordoma patient in the world to receive a clinical trial of a leading edge immunotherapy treatment at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. Having been first diagnosed in 2009, Nicole’s cancer returned three months before her wedding to Chris in the fall of 2018.
“We got married last year and she was diagnosed about three months before that,” Chris shared with The Herald. “With chordoma, usually when you hit the 10 year mark that’s a sign that you’re pretty much in the clear and of course just before the 10 year mark was reached there was a re-growth.”
As a means to raise funds and give back to the institute, Nicole launched her Colour to Conquer Campaign this past Spring, an initiative that invites Canadians to colour their hair and raise funds to help Conquer Cancer In Our Lifetime. She raised a whopping $6,000 towards chordoma research.
The pair, one from Avondale and the other from St. John’s, moved to Toronto three years ago, with Chris working as the Director of Sponsorship for the Canadian Hockey League. But philanthropy has always been close to the couples’ hearts.
Back in Newfoundland, Nicole was an avid supporter and member of Young Adult Cancer Canada. When she set to work on the Colour to Conquer Campaign, Chris aimed to put one of his other passions to use as a way to give back.
Developing a growing following on his Condo Cook social media pages, Chris organized a pop-up culinary event at Toronto’s Depanneur this past May.
A second passion
“Cooking has become my passion. I had no training whatsoever but it just became my passion over the past couple of years and I keep trying to get better and better,” he explained. “When Nicole started her Colour to Conquer Campaign I said what skills do I have that can be a benefit and how can they help raise additional funds for the cause?”
The seven-course menu was inspired by the couples home-province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
“People have misinterpretations about Newfoundland cuisine and how it’s vegetables and salt fish for the most part,” Chris shared. “So trying to inform some of the people on the mainland about the different ways you can use Newfoundland cuisine and some of the things that we eat, it just sort of made the perfect fit.“
Timing in life is everything. Chris shares the couple owes so much to the Princess Margaret Hospital, with the cutting edge treatment coming along at the perfect time to help Nicole in her second round battle with chordoma.
“It’s been insane the way the timing worked out,” Chris says. “We could be in a much different state right now. She was the first female chordoma patient in the world to receive this therapy treatment. And it’s been working so far. The tumor has shrunk. And it’s just incredible to see because even two years ago or a year ago this probably wouldn’t have been a viable option.”
Leading the charge
Chris applauds his better half for her strength and resolve, as she continues to take the time to give back, even when doing nothing would be the easy path.
“She’s the levelheaded one,” he laughs. “We found a middle ground in this process and I think it’s the best spot that you could possibly be. She’s just so grateful to have this treatment option available to her. And the best way to support it is by finding different ways to give back.
“If we were going to go and jump into this we wanted to do it right and try and make a difference,” Chris adds. “It’s really her leading the charge on all this. Just to see how she maintains such an even keel every day and takes care of me and the dog and battles cancer and works full time, it’s just remarkable what she’s able to achieve. That she’s able to raise $6,000 ontop of it, it’s really on her and I have to thank her for everything that she does.”
For more on the Colour to Conquer Campaign visit colourtoconquer.ca.