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<h1>Victor Chukwueke: “I’ve learned to accept who I am” </h1><section class="abstract"><p>Victor Chukwueke, 29, was born in south-eastern Nigeria. His jaw was slowly crushed by the swelling tumours of neurofibromatosis, which makes his speech sometimes laborious.</p>
</section><p>
<p class="question">What was your childhood like?<br />
<p class="answer">I grew up in a very small village, Ezere. Around 300, 400 [people] but no running water, no electricity. I don’t remember not having the tumour. As I was growing, it was getting bigger. I didn’t have access to medical treatment. So the tumour was left unchecked.<br />
<p class="answer">Growing up, I didn’t want to look different. I just wanted to look like other kids. Sometimes I didn’t want to go outside. People staring at you. Some kids make fun, I feel a little bit ostracised. Some people don’t understand this disease. They think it was a curse.<br />
<p class="answer">My parents heard about the nuns. I was brought here [to Michigan] by <a href="http://dmmmg.com/about-us.php">Catholic missionary nuns</a>. They brought me here in 2001 from Nigeria… I stayed with them and had nine surgeries.<br />
<p class="question">You went to community college for two years, then Wayne State University, where in 2012 you were selected to give the commencement address. What are you doing now?<br />
<p class="answer">I’m in medical school at the University of Toledo, just finishing up my second year. It’s challenging. It’s going well, you just have to put in the effort. I have some friends, we play soccer, ping pong.<br />
<p class="question">What’s it like being stared at?<br />
<p class="answer">It reminds you. It reminds you that I have an issue. That I have a problem. A group stops what they’re doing and starts staring at you. They are shocked. I’m getting used to it.<br />
<p class="question">When you see yourself in the mirror, what do you think?<br />
<p class="answer">I’ve lived all my life kind of like this, so I’ve kind of accepted who I am. My biggest worry is how I think people will see me, that’s what I’m worried most of all. Especially now that I’m trying to become a doctor. I’d like to see patients, so I’m more worried about how comfortable they're going to be.<br />
<p class="question">Is that why you wear a facial prosthetic?<br />
<p class="answer">I’m trying to make others feel comfortable, especially my patients.<br />
<p class="question">How do you feel about interacting with patients for the first time?<br />
<p class="answer">I’m confident in my ability. Just a little bit apprehensive. I’m sure that people will understand.<br />
<p class="answer">&nbsp;</p>
<p><em>Victor has set up a </em><a href="http://victorshopefoundation.org"><em>humanitarian foundation</em></a><em> and hopes to become a medical missionary.</em></p>
<p><em>&nbsp;</em></p>

<p>
<p class="question">What was your childhood like?
<p class="answer">I grew up in a very small village, Ezere. Around 300, 400 [people] but no running water, no electricity. I don’t remember not having the tumour. As I was growing, it was getting bigger. I didn’t have access to medical treatment. So the tumour was left unchecked.
<p class="answer">Growing up, I didn’t want to look different. I just wanted to look like other kids. Sometimes I didn’t want to go outside. People staring at you. Some kids make fun, I feel a little bit ostracised. Some people don’t understand this disease. They think it was a curse.
<p class="answer">My parents heard about the nuns. I was brought here [to Michigan] by <a href="http://dmmmg.com/about-us.php">Catholic missionary nuns</a>. They brought me here in 2001 from Nigeria… I stayed with them and had nine surgeries.
<p class="question">You went to community college for two years, then Wayne State University, where in 2012 you were selected to give the commencement address. What are you doing now?
<p class="answer">I’m in medical school at the University of Toledo, just finishing up my second year. It’s challenging. It’s going well, you just have to put in the effort. I have some friends, we play soccer, ping pong.
<p class="question">What’s it like being stared at?
<p class="answer">It reminds you. It reminds you that I have an issue. That I have a problem. A group stops what they’re doing and starts staring at you. They are shocked. I’m getting used to it.
<p class="question">When you see yourself in the mirror, what do you think?
<p class="answer">I’ve lived all my life kind of like this, so I’ve kind of accepted who I am. My biggest worry is how I think people will see me, that’s what I’m worried most of all. Especially now that I’m trying to become a doctor. I’d like to see patients, so I’m more worried about how comfortable they're going to be.
<p class="question">Is that why you wear a facial prosthetic?
<p class="answer">I’m trying to make others feel comfortable, especially my patients.
<p class="question">How do you feel about interacting with patients for the first time?
<p class="answer">I’m confident in my ability. Just a little bit apprehensive. I’m sure that people will understand.
<p class="answer">&nbsp;</p>
<p><em>Victor has set up a </em><a href="http://victorshopefoundation.org"><em>humanitarian foundation</em></a><em> and hopes to become a medical missionary.</em></p>
<p><em>&nbsp;</em></p>

<img src="https://mosaicscience.com/mwt-republish-img/1403/republish.gif" />This <a href="https://mosaicscience.com/story/victor-chukwueke-“ive-learned-accept-who-i-am”">article</a> first appeared on <a href="https://mosaicscience.com">Mosaic</a> and is republished here under a Creative Commons licence.
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