Cancer Survivor Candace Priddy’s Story
Sometimes a terrible thing will lead you to something beautiful. You HATE the terrible thing, but you would do it all over again just so you could have the beautiful. That terrible thing is Breast Cancer, but the beautiful thing that came of it was a bond I share with Candace Priddy. We never would have met in real life, but thanks to the “Pink Sisters” we found we have a common bond. Breast Cancer would be your first guess, but you’d be wrong. Although we both have this disease we bonded over so many other things. And if you take nothing else from this series – remember the bonds you make now are more than just an acquaintance, other cancer survivors share something with you that not even your significant other, children or parents can ever understand.
At age 43 the last thing Candace thought would happen is breast cancer. With no family history it seemed unlikely. But she was diagnosed with Stage 2b Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I will let her tell you her story in her own words: “Found a lump right before Christmas 2012. Pushed it out of my mind but something kept nagging at me. January I called for a mammogram and told them I had found a lump, they informed me that I would need to see my family doctor first. So called to make appointment with doctor – they asked why, I told them and they had me in the next day. Got felt up by 2 or 3 folks there and had my mammogram scheduled for the next week. January 18th of 2013 is a day I will never forget – the radiologist came out to talk to me after my mammogram and ultrasound, he said that 99.9% he felt it was cancer and that they already had plans for me- my family doctor had a surgeon lined up and things were going to move very fast. My head was spinning. I told my mom, she was in denial and said we needed to wait for the biopsy before we all got upset. Had my biopsy and was told yes it is cancer. So Feb 28th, I had a lumpectomy (after much research on what gave me the best odds) they also removed 16 lymph nodes. Got my results- cancer had spread to 2 of the lymph nodes. So off to Chemo we go. I had my first treatment- April 17th, I begged, borrowed and
cried to have my hair make it until May 4th when my baby brother was getting married. Nope, I have obviously upset the gods as my hair came out on May 2nd. Damn it. Ok back to Chemo- I finished up on Sept 5th. During the last treatment, I found a lump and I showed my Oncologist and I was told it was scar tissue. I just did not feel it was scar tissue so I made an appointment with my surgeon myself. He also thought it was scar tissue but agreed to have an ultra sound done. The ultra sound showed possibly infection, so the dr attempted to drain it. Nothing came out- so biopsy time again. On Oct 5th, I heard for the 2nd time in a year- you have cancer. We decided I would remove the breast this time. On Oct 28th, I had a right mastectomy. After healing- I completed my radiation. I started Femara in January of 2014- yuck, is all I can say. I feel like an old woman. But if it keeps the beast from coming back a 3rd time- I am ok with it. I have this horrible feeling most of the time like waiting for the other shoe to drop. I do not feel this is the last I am going to hear of this nasty word- Cancer. I hate you by the way (cancer that is).”
Candace had endured 4 rounds of Adriamycin (Red Devil) & Cytoxan followed by 12 rounds of Taxol. She had 32 radiation treatments with 6 boosts. Yet, the hardest thing for her was telling her Mom: “I still get tears when I think about it. One of the scariest things was looking at my family and telling them I had this disease and when my kids asked if it was going to kill me.” Candace’s advice to someone just diagnosed would be: “Breathe, be your own advocate! Had I not insisted they test my “scar tissue” I could be stage 4 before they had tested it.” Author’s note: If you or anyone you know has been diagnosed with breast cancer and need information on the “Pink Sisters” Facebook support group please comment below and we will get you the information.