A UNC professional student will be honored in a memorial service next month after a five-and-half-year battle with brain cancer.
Kristen Carol Burke, 24, of Jamestown, N.C., died Oct. 8 from a diagnosis of medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer.
Burke was a third-year pharmacy student at the University and attended UNC as an undergraduate, where she was a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority.
Burke will be honored in a memorial service at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Nov. 8.
Senior Meredith Burke — Kristen Burke’s younger sister — said her sister was diagnosed with the brain cancer during her freshman year.
Meredith Burke, also a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma, said her sister began experiencing severe headaches shortly after moving to Chapel Hill in 2005, leading her to seek medical help.
That year, doctors discovered that Kristen had a brain tumor and had it removed, her sister said. After three cancer-free years at UNC, the tumor reappeared while she was in her first year of pharmacy school.
Despite treatment over the last two years, Kristen passed away at Wesley Long Hospital in Greensboro.
Her parents, Jonathan and Cindy Burke of Jamestown, could not be reached for comment.
Senior Angela Hobart, president of Sigma Sigma Sigma, said she met Kristen Burke at UNC during her freshman year in the sorority house.
“Kristen was always smiling,” Hobart said.
“People always remember her for being warm and giving, regardless of what was going on with her treatment.”
Hobart said Kristen remained an active member of the sorority community even after she began pharmacy school.
“She was always coming back and supporting us at events,” Hobart said.
Hannah Brooks, vice president of Kristen’s third-year pharmacy class, said Burke was studious and an inspiration to many.
“She had cancer during pharmacy school, but she maintained a full curriculum,” Brooks said.
Brooks said Kristen was a classic social butterfly and hated to miss any social functions at the school, even during treatment.
She added that Kristen expressed interest in a specialization in oncology — the study of cancer — since she had experience with the medications and their side effects, and she could relate to cancer patients on a personal level.
“Everyone misses her at the pharmacy school,” Brooks said.
“I feel like everyone was definitely affected by her death.”
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