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Candice's story

“You have cancer”

Candice Hampson

3rd August, 2020 - 4 min read

“You have cancer”

Three words no one wants to hear. Especially not at 32 years old! There I was, in the prime of my life with a breast cancer diagnosis. Surely this wasn’t actually happening? As I left the doctor’s office that Friday morning, I didn’t know what to do with myself. The oncologist told me to go home, try and compartmentalise this information, enjoy my weekend, and that we would deal with it on Monday. Compartmentalise cancer? Yeah right!

“Doctors do a good job of taking care of your body, but not your mind, emotions or soul.”

My lump was in my armpit, so they weren’t sure what kind of cancer it was at first. As likely most people would do, I hopped straight on Google and convinced myself I had Pancreatic cancer – the type of cancer with the lowest survival rates.

Candice Hampson

Candice Hampson

Only 25.4% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer live beyond a year (1). My family and I actually celebrated the news that it was ‘only’ breast cancer with a nice meal out, and a huge sigh of relief. N.B. All of my cancer-related fundraising has since gone to Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

Knowing what and how much to research was really hard. When do you stop? How can you tell what sources of information are trustworthy? Did that person really cure themselves by having coffee enemas?

“What does that mean for me?”

I asked my medical team what I should be doing to help them treat me successfully, and improve my chances. Should I quit drinking? Should I change my diet to 100% kale? They told me to try to eat healthy and get regular exercise and leave the rest up to them. When I did my own research, I found out that certain foods and compounds can promote or suppress tumour growth (2). And that actually getting the level of activity recommended by government recommended would have a drastic impact on the risk of recurrence, or the cancer coming back (3).

It did in fact come back. About a year after finishing active treatment, and while on my honeymoon, a little lump the size and feel of a frozen pea, was found nestled in my armpit in the exact same place it was before. A “local recurrence” was what it was, and it sent me into a tailspin. I suddenly was in a whole new risk bracket and things weren’t as straightforward as they once were. My mental health suffered – I didn’t feel like myself for a good six months.

What is the top barrier you face as a cancer patient and/or survivor?

I have recently run a survey for cancer patients and survivors – almost half of them faced barriers to do with wavering mental health. One patient said to me: “Doctors do a good job of taking care of your body, but not your mind, emotions or soul.”

“Doctors do a good job of taking care of your body, but not your mind, emotions or soul.”

This is why I founded Kiteline Health. We provide coaching for people affected by cancer and other long-term health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, IBS, and most recently long Covid. Others I’ve spoken to with long-term health conditions face many of the same barriers I did: how much research is enough? Do I need to change my habits when it comes to food, exercise and stress? How will I financially deal with strain? When will I feel like myself again? But every person’s journey will be different, and each person might need different support across combinations of these issues.

That’s where coaching comes in. Coaching is not advice. Coaching starts from the belief that you already know the answers – you might just need a little help identifying where you want to prioritise making changes in your life, and what steps you need to take to achieve that change.

Our mission at Kiteline Health is to support people affected by long-term conditions to take positive, proactive steps to improve their lives. Our vision is a world where everyone finds it easy to be proactive about their health. Join us!

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Candice Hampson, Cofounder and CEO of Kiteline Health

Candice Hampson is the cofounder and CEO of Kiteline Health. She was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in 2015 at age 32. She is passionate about improving the lives of people affected by cancer, so they don’t have to face the same issues she faced along the way. She has previously worked in engineering, strategy consulting, charity and social enterprise support, and impact investing

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