All about Candace.
Updated: Nov 27, 2019
I worked with an incredible woman named Candace. As you can tell from the picture, her smile was infectious. She was a southern girl with the manners to match, a heart of gold, and a depth of faith I envied.
Her journey sucked. Cancer sucks. She would have been 52 this week, on the 19th. She spent her last milestone birthday in the hospital. One month and eight days before she passed away. She had been cancer free and had moments she felt she had run from the shadows. She had just started to let her guard down and have hope there might be a future.
The picture here has been on my bookcase for as long as I can remember. I've looked at it every day and it has inspired me to tell the story of Liz and Sean in Love After Broken, the second book of the Second Time's the Charm series. Before I go on, the picture also gives credit to my courageous and amazing sister-in-law and my friend Marci, both who have kicked cancer's ass not once, but TWICE. I may not know you, or your backstory to include a disease you have fought, but if you have - this is for you too! Collective love, sent to fight this battle yourself, or as a caregiver.
Candace died of stomach cancer (also known as gastric cancer). The stats suck. Today, five years after she was diagnosed, surviving five years past diagnosis has only risen from 28.6% to 29.3%. It's the fifth most common cancer, the second deadliest, and a million people will be diagnosed this year. 300,000 mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, friends won't make it through the next five years! Most will have their whole, or at least most, of their stomach removed which means those who remain alive suffer a whole host of other challenges. Because it's considered rare in comparison to other cancers, however, the funding just isn't there. When Candace was diagnosed, only 0.23% of the National Cancer Institute's budget was dedicated to gastric cancer. In 2017, it was the least funded cancer at only $13.4 million. Just for comparison's sake, and not to say for a second that every cancer isn't equally important to fund, breast cancer received $545M, lung $320M, and AIDS funding was $249M from the National Cancer Institute.
The book will both educate the public about taking what might seem like just a stomach ache more seriously and give money to support the legacy she left as I donate some of the proceeds from the book. Of course, in the middle of her battle, she started a foundation to help others. Fittingly, it was named Stupid Strong.
November is gastric cancer awareness month. November 28th is also the day we lost Candace to the disease. The blog she and her husband shared during the journey has made me laugh and brought tears that forced me to stop writing because I could no longer read the words. I pulled little things that memorialize Candace; her smile and spirit must remain forever. The disease may have ravaged her body, but her grit and grace couldn't be tamed!
I also touch on organ donation in my first book, One Day After Never, in honor of another dear friend, Amy Drummond. She is an amazing woman who has spent her life helping families navigate perilous and heartbreaking experiences. She works tirelessly with the organization Gift of Life, whose mission is to help the 3000+ in Michigan waiting for an organ live their own second chance. I had to take the opportunity to promote this worthy cause!
Candace fought for love. A hard, brave fight. For the love of her husband, her two children, and her friends and family. I cherish the time we had, but it wasn't enough and together, when we promote this book, we can raise funding, so someday, not one more person will lose the fight for love.
Candace's husband has a line he uses in his writing I have to share because what a reminder for everyday. Do Good. Spread Joy. Love Always. You've left a legacy my friend.
Until next time - Fight for Love -