Candice's Fight with Ovarian Cancer

Hi my name is Samantha Sanders, however the story I am about to tell you is about my older sister Candice Sanders. Candice was born to Robert and Cindy Sanders a newly married couple looking to start their life journey together. Candice, being the first-born, always told me she paved the trail for me as I am the second oldest of now four kids, which include another sister, Kerstin, and our “little” brother Alex.

My parents would beg to differ that Candice didn’t actually “pave” the path for the rest of her younger siblings, but more so “blazed” the path and she continues to do so to this day. Candice has always marched to her own beat and makes no apologies for being unique. In fact, that’s exactly what she told me when on February 23rd 2018, when she told me she was diagnosed with “unicorn cancer”. Actually, it was a rare form of Ovarian Cancer.

Candice for over a year has been dealing with a lot of “female issues.” She eventually found out her uterus was “riddled” with fibroids, so in May of 2017, Candice had a hysteroscopy myomectomy surgery to remove what they thought was causing the issue. However, that didn’t seem to fix the problem.

Month after month, Candice was still in serious almost debilitating pain. She knew something inside of her was wrong and Candice always being true to herself refused to settle with the doctor’s explanations. She relentlessly continued to follow up with doctors to figure out what exactly was going on, and finally they suggested another surgery in an attempt to remove the remaining fibroids.

On February 16th 2018, Candice finally felt like the doctors had the answer for her and she had an abdominal myomectomy. During the surgery, which would typically be “routine” the doctors were shocked when they found a 10.5 cm (size of a grapefruit) tumor surrounding her left ovary. When Candice woke up thinking she would be fibroid free, she also found out she was now missing her left ovary and fallopian tube.

The doctors told her the tumor they removed was a mature teratoma and it was sent out for routine pathology. Less than 2% of these benign tumors ever express cancer. Well, Candice as unique as she is found out two days after her 35th birthday she is part of the 2%. They found a 2.4 cm portion of that “benign” tumor that had poorly differentiated Squamous Cell Carcinoma. What makes it even more bizarre is that the Squamous Cell Carcinoma is a type of skin cancer?! Since this is such a rare occurrence, there is no set course of treatment, so they are pulling out all the stops to make sure that this aggressive form of cancer does not spread.

Our entire family has been shocked by this news. None of us could imagine such a horrible, ugly disease could be found in such a beautiful soul, let alone while she is so young. What is hard to grasp about Candice having cancer is everything that she has done to help those who’ve had cancer.

Candice after college started a store in Cincinnati, Ohio called Candice’s Boutique. The store was geared toward helping women find the properly fitted bras. In addition to making women feel confident in proper undergarments, she had her Board of Orthotics certification to fit breast prosthesis and post surgical garments. Many of her customers were breast cancer survivors, who she would assist in working with them post mastectomy or helping style wigs for those going through chemotherapy.

Candice’s best friend from Ursuline Academy, Catie Rotterman, sent me this when she heard of the news and I asked for her help setting up this GoFundMe for Candice….

My story starts in 1997, when I met my best friend. Candice and I met first quarter freshmen year of high school and were instantly friends. Candice quickly became a member of my family and I in hers as we both tagged along on many family vacations throughout high school. Candice and I are the kind of best friends even to this day that don't need to spend every waking minute together, but there is always a silent understanding that I am her best friend and she is mine. And when we reconnect, it is like time stopped when we were apart and nothing changed.

Even though, college took us to different states, we remained close talking on the phone each week and seeing each other on breaks. Fortunately, life after college brought us back together again. I moved back to Cincinnati to start my career as a teacher and Candice moved back to open up her store; Candice's Boutique. Candice helped many women in the Cincinnati area fighting cancer, one being my grandma. Candice has a gift of making people feel comfortable in their own skin. That is what she was able to do for countless women battling cancer. She was able to give them back confidence in themselves and in their bodies.

Candice and I have been through so much together that sometimes I feel like she knows me better than I know myself. She stood next to me at my wedding and was there for the birth of both of my children. Even though we live hundreds of miles apart I am fighting her cancer along with her.

Since high school, Candice and I have always quoted the song, "You've got a Friend" by James Taylor to each other. In light of the recent diagnosis and the future battle that is at hand, the words of this song have never had more meaning then they do now.

-Catie-

Now Candice is finding herself going through what she has helped so many people along the way go through.

Candice has begun egg preservation and once that is done, she will begin 6 rounds of chemotherapy. CT scans show no visible evidence that the cancer has spread, but since this is “Unicorn Cancer”, they want to give her the “shot gun” chemo approach.

I wanted to do this to help her with the bills that are coming in. Even if you can’t contribute please spread her story, anything will help.

Candice fought me tooth and nail over setting up a GoFundMe because she didn’t think she deserved the help or want to exploit her sickness. She said that all she wanted was for people to realize that YOU know your body more than anyone else and that if you think something is wrong, be persistent and don’t take no for an answer. Candice made me promise to let everyone know that if there is any money left over from the medical bills she will be donating 100% of remainder to a Ovarian Cancer Research Center.

If you are interested in her story and want to keep up to date, you can follow her story at www.caringbridge.org/candicesanders.

I’ll continue to update this page as things progress. As of now I’m going to leave you with the song lyrics of…

"You've Got a Friend" by James Taylor

When you're down and troubled and you need a helping hand
And nothing, whoa, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest nights
You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am
I'll come running, oh yeah baby, to see you again
Winter, spring, summer, or fall
All you got to do is call and I'll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah
You've got a friend

If the sky… above you should turn dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind should begin to blow
Keep your head together and call my name out loud now
Soon I'll be knocking upon your door

You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am
I'll come running, oh yes I will, see you again
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, yeah
All you got to do is call and I'll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah
Hey, ain't it good to know that you've got a friend?

People can be so cold
They'll hurt you and desert you
Well, they'll take your soul if you let them
Oh yeah, but don't you let them

You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I'll come running to see you again
Oh baby, don't you know about
Winter, spring, summer, or fall

Hey now, all you have to do is call, Lord, I'll be there, yeah, yeah
You've got a friend. You've got a friend, yeah
Ain't it good to know you've got a friend
Ain't it good to know you've got a friend
Oh, yeah, yeah, you've got a friend.

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    • 23 mos
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Organizer and beneficiary

Sam Sanders 
Organizer
Seaside, CA
Candice Sanders 
Beneficiary
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