Candace Henley has been on a roll, between rocking the advocacy and spreading the word. From being honored as by the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority as their Woman of the Year to hosting the ever-growing 5th annual Blue Hat Blue Tie Sunday, she's unstoppable as both a survivor and advocate. That's why we're proud to honor her as our April Hero of the Month!
What's the biggest change you've seen in the colon cancer community in the last few years?
The biggest change I see is increased awareness and education about CRC. When I was diagnosed in 2003, I didn't see commercials about colon cancer or knew anyone who had it or survived it. Now, within the last few years, there has been a surge of PSA's encouraging people to get screened. The partnership and collaboration between the CRC organizations has made a significant impact in the lives of survivors, patients and caregivers by having conferences, webinars and Call-to-action events that raise awareness and give a voice to what you used to be a voiceless disease that no one knew anything about and now, you see campaigns that say "Get Blued", "Get Screened", "Love Your Buut" or "One Million Strong". Also, within the last few years, I've seen an increase in having more long term Stage IV survivors who are NED 12+ years due to advances of technology coupled with medications, chemo, radiation and patients being more proactive in their care.
What do you see coming up next for survivors?
I see a change in the way survivors live life. I see survivors being able to live a full life if they want too. You have to want to move past the feeling sorry for your self and being mad at the world because you, along with millions of others had cancer. The beauty of being a survivor is being able to pay it forward to those who helped you by being a voice to those who are no longer here because their battle with cancer ended. So, we must lend our voices and fight to help others. I see happiness and joy after getting used to their "New Normal". No one is ever the same after cancer; you have to adjust to your body trying to function with a resection or removal of your colon to having an ostomy bag. I have had the pleasure of meeting wonderful survivors who like me, thought they weren't going to make it and now they are making every day count. They are enjoying watching their children and grandchildren grow up, they are dating, they are getting married and some are able to start or add new babies to their families.
I see survivors thriving.
What's the number one piece of advice you have for the newly diagnosed?
You don't have to stop living because you were given a cancer diagnosis. Every day you wake up you are a survivor, so live! Surround yourself with people who will not let you give up!
Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have additional questions about colon cancer screening or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030. We’re here to help.