By: As told to Derek Clouthier
On June 23, 2022, Candace Cook will be looking to achieve one of her goals — her 50th birthday. Born and raised in Saskatchewan, where she worked as a communications director for the provincial government, Candace moved to Edmonton in 2008 with her husband, Tim, and son, Nathan. In 2011, life threw them a curveball when Candace was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. After a mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy and a year of targeted therapy, Candace thought she was in the clear. But, in 2014, some discomfort under her arm turned out to be stage 4 cancer, which has since spread to her bones, soft tissue, lungs, liver and, most recently, her brain. Now appreciating each day, Candace lives for the moment, and is proud to say, “I’m still here.”
“In 2011, when I found out I had stage 2 breast cancer, I was shocked. My son was only two, and you start thinking, ‘Oh my God, my son is not going to have a mother.’ But my husband was a great support and was able to help me with my perspective at the time.
“I quickly started to learn that a lot of people who have cancer can often live a long time with metastatic cancer, and I just happen to be one of the fortunate ones. I’ve benefited from a lot of different treatments that have helped shrink my cancer and give me extra time.
“One of the things that surprised me the most was how many treatment options there are for someone like me with metastatic cancer. Other people diagnosed stage 4 can take some comfort in that there are so many great treatments out there right now that don’t have a lot of side effects. We’re getting much better at targeting therapies and there’s so many things on the horizon.
“I’ve always said that hope is one of the best things you can give a cancer patient, and I’ve tried to hold on to hope as best I can. My husband and my son are definitely my rocks through all of this. My husband is a bit of a jokester, but he’s also always good at helping me gain perspective. There’s always a positive if you look really hard. And, hey, I’m still here.”