HamletHub Breast Cancer Survivor Stories: Meet Candee Caldwell

On October 10, 2018, the 10th Annual Drink Pink for a cause will take place at Bernard’s in Ridgefield. This event supports Ann’s Place while putting a spotlight on local breast cancer patients and survivors.

The photo you see here captures Brookfield resident Candee Caldwell in all of her beauty! Part of Kristen Jensen’s “Faces of Courage”, this photograph and many other candid images of cancer survivors and those in the midst of treatment will blanket the walls of Bernard’s on October 10 telling a story of life, struggle, friendship, and hope.

Here, we couple the many Courageous Faces with their unique stories. We thank each and every one of these ladies for sharing their difficult journey with us.

Candee Caldwell

- Hometown: Brookfield

- Occupation: Award Winning Makeup Artist

- 7 Months, Cancer Free

Tell me about when you first learned you had Breast Cancer.

I found a hard lump in my left breast in the summer of last year (2017) and naturally was afraid of what it might be.  I put off calling my GYN until November and thankfully didn’t wait any longer. During my appointment, we confirmed the presence of a small tumor and my doctor wanted me to get a biopsy.  In December I had a 3D Mammogram and scheduled the biopsy for the January 2nd. After the biopsy, they told me that it would take a few days to confirm if the tumor was benign or not. To my surprise, when my doctor found out what the test results were, she called me back within HOURS.   She confirmed that I had a Stage 2 Invasive Lobular Carcinoma that was dime size (1.5cm) that was HER2 + ER 1%. I sat at my desk in disbelief, I decided then that I needed to take this one step at a time and accept the challenge. I scheduled my lumpectomy with Dr. Zandra Change and called my husband (who was in disbelief)!  His response was “WOW! YOU?” … I had spent the last few years consciously trying to make wise food and exercise choices to mitigate the possibility of just this circumstance.  I called a family meeting to tell my sons what was going on.  As a mother, I am supposed to be the strong one. I am not supposed to have medical crises, I am supposed to respond to them.  I stood in front of them - with their blank stares, everyone was in.

Who did you turn to for support and how was that person or organization supportive?

I had tons of support from my close family and friends.  But if I was to pick one who really got me through, it would be my sister, Michelle and Ann’s Place in Danbury. My sister called me every day, never missing a Monday before my chemo treatments. After each milestone, she would send me cards and flowers, a gift to lift my sprints.  My sons and husband took turns traveling with me to treatments and spending that time with me so I never felt alone. Michelle lives in Utah, though, and to know that I am in her thoughts every day and for her to take that time every day was very special to me.

Honestly, I don’t know how I would have gotten through all of this without Ann’s Place and Kevin B, our counselor.  Ann’s Place offers comfort, support, and resources to people living with cancer and their families. My husband and I are very grateful for all the services that we received there and highly recommend them to anyone feeling like they don’t have a community to reach out to. They have been amazing.

What Massage do you have for others who have been diagnosed with breast cancer?

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! Don’t be afraid and ask questions, ask for help if you need help. Walk and drink plenty of water.  I am a Makeup Artist by profession so it would be irresponsible for me not to talk about beauty!  It is so important through this process to feel beautiful and keeping up with a beauty regimen can help with your self-esteem.  When you feel good, you heal faster!  Keep pampering yourself with little things like foot massages and face masks!