Meet Candace Smith, a kidney transplant caregiver and cancer patient.
National Cancer Surivivors Day (June 6th) is a CELEBRATION for those who have survived, an INSPIRATION for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of SUPPORT for families, and an OUTREACH to the community.
Meet Candace Smith, a caregiver for both parents who underwent a kidney transplant in 2013. Today, Candace wants to be an inspiration to others as she reflects on her parent’s transplant recovery period through a new lens – as she now receives caregiving from her parents, family, and friends during her battle with breast cancer.
How has caregiving impacted your life?
“I was 21 years old when my mother, Pam donated a kidney to my father, Antonio. We are a close-knit family, so my sister, Nicole and I knew we had to step up and help our parents through the kidney transplant process. Fear of the unknown was scary at times, but we knew the support from family and friends would help them a lot. Because both of my parents are preachers, there was always the need to keep family, friends and church members updated on a regular basis. I helped with making sure my parents had their meals, took their medication, along with other essential needs. My parents are strong-willed, so I didn’t look at them as being weak. I knew we would get through these moments together without negative thoughts and stress.
I’m grateful that my parents had a full recovery from their kidney transplant, and I know that I played an important role in their overall recovery process. It is important to be there as a caregiver when a family member or friend goes through health challenges. Today, I’m leaning on my parents, family, and friends to be caregivers for me. Recently, I was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. I live in Atlanta, GA and my parents live in Charlotte, NC. They have been there for me since my diagnosis. They travel to Atlanta every three weeks when I undergo my chemotherapy treatments. My parents stay in town as long as I need them to which sometimes lasts up to a week and then my sister, Nicole or other friends come to serve as caregivers.”
What gets you through your bout with breast cancer?
“Lots of caregiving. Support from family and friends along with having a strong faith keeps me going. Hearing encouraging words helps to push me through the more challenging times of chemo treatments, fatigue, nights sweats, mood swings, and extreme nausea. There are days when I have no energy or appetite and I don’t want to get out of my bed, but receiving heartfelt messages through cards, beautiful flowers and calls from friends, and speaking words of affirmation to myself helps me make it through each day.”
Is there a message or statement you’d like to make sure that we include or highlight in our feature on your journey?
“Yes, keep the faith in order to keep your mind intact. You should trust your doctors and lean on your family and friends for support. I want to also stress the importance of having regular doctor’s visits and getting mammograms. As far as caregiving goes, whether you can serve as a caregiver or need a caregiver due to organ transplantation, cancer, or other illness, know that the impact is immeasurable. I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel in my cancer journey. Much of it is because of the impact of such loving and supportive caregivers.”
Candace’s mother is Dr. Pam Smith, the Manager of Multicultural Initiatives at Donate Life NC.