Meet my sole surviving triplet - Holly
I was pregnant with triplets last year. Now I’m so grateful to have my one daughter Holly, and for Kiteline to continue to help others in my shoes. This is our story.
15th February, 2022 - 6 min read
Many of you know me as Candice, the CEO and co-founder of Kiteline Health - a UK-based, female-led health tech start-up, focused on supporting those living with cancer, chronic illness and long-term conditions in the workplace.
My family and friends know me as Candice, lover of poutine (Canadian form of chips, cheese and gravy), injury-prone snowboarder and Drag Race superfan.
Others may even simply know me as Candice, two-time breast cancer survivor.
But the real me – Candice outside of work and wider family/social situations – has been dealing with something incredibly private and raw, which up until recently I have not spoken about in professional settings. I’d like to share the real story of where I’ve been.
It is the story of the birth & life of my daughter, Holly. It should have been the story of the life of her two sisters, Emily and Ivy, too.
To explain how we lost two of our triplets, we need to go back to the beginning. Frustratingly, it all comes back to the ‘C word’. No, not Covid.
It all comes back to cancer.
Like many people across the world battling cancer, before starting my first round of chemo back in 2015, I had the choice to undergo preventative IVF treatment as there was a high possibility the cancer drugs would make me infertile. Infertility can be one of the most difficult, upsetting, and unexpected long-term effects of cancer treatment. It’s one that many of us are not prepared for. It's another added blow to an already devastating diagnosis.
In short: my cancer treatment led to IVF, which led to triplets, which led to disaster.
Historically, one of the biggest risks associated with IVF has been multiple births. The human womb is by design made to carry one child to term. Add another foetus or more, and the risks for a dangerous premature birth and pregnancy complications increase drastically.
Did you know that almost 60% of twins and 90% of triplets are delivered preterm? Life-threatening maternal complications are also 2x higher among twin pregnancies, and this increases even more with triplets. Throw previous cancer treatments and the fear of infertility into the mix, and you’re presented with an even more emotionally and physically taxing risk. But it is one that we both knew we had to take to have the family we wanted.
My daughter Holly was born 17 weeks early – yes, about 4 months early. She was born in April, and her due date was August. She was extremely premature – on the edge of viability as the doctors told us – and her sisters tragically didn’t make it. She is our own little miracle.
After spending over four harrowing, nerve-wracking, emotional and frankly exhausting months with her in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units at the truly AMAZING John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, all set during the deadly backdrop of a global pandemic, and just after a stressful year of launching a new business, I am proud to say that she is now officially off at-home oxygen and thriving.
Candice holding her daughter Holly
We are beyond besotted with her. But as all parents who have lost children will know, the pain of her growing up without her siblings will stay with us forever.
This hidden side of cancer – the insidious threat of infertility and the added and potentially heartbreaking risks if you try to take the IVF option to evade it – is not talked about enough.
Not only are they not talked about, they’re not actively supported. This is particularly true in the workplace, where we spend the vast majority of our time. How much do we truly know our colleagues and what is going on in their lives? How can we, as employers, make the workplace a safe, happy and healthy place to be and return to, especially in a post-pandemic world?
Beyond the emotional and mental support needed to healthily navigate these turbulent waters, there’s also the physical side of things. The need for robust and clear information. An upfront discussion about risk. A frank conversation about potential outcomes. Education about how to minimise the recurrence of disease. Ongoing management of side effects. Talking therapies to help you stay sane. Support to regain balance in your work and personal life, to help you forge a life beyond cancer. Guidance to help you sleep better (especially with a newborn!) and eat more nutritiously, to have more energy to face challenges. Ways to stay active and mobile, to help you keep your goals on track. All these things are desperately needed, especially for someone who lives with a chronic illness.
Thankfully, I was motivated to launch Kiteline Health in order to break down these barriers to accessing credible, evidence-based health information. Everyone should be able to access the right, tailored support that they need to thrive and remain healthy.
Not only do Kiteline offer access to credible wellbeing information and courses, led by health coaches and our medical advisory panel, we also connect people with brilliant health coaches who help take that information and translate it into real, sustainable behaviour change. From sleep to diet, exercise to symptom management, lifestyle and goals or specific illness advice, our coaches are on hand to offer that essential, added layer of reassurance and expert support.
It’s something I wish I had when I was first faced with cancer aged 32, and something I’m even more thankful I have now after the events of last year.
To end my story and celebrate my return to Kiteline, I’d like to thank you all for your support. I’m happy to be back and look forward to a brighter 2022 for all.
As a gift to me and my colleagues, please share my story and spread the word of our life-changing services, which may be desperately needed by someone else in my shoes.
We’re here to help.
Our vision is a world where everyone can be proactive about their health, and we want to revolutionise wellbeing in the UK and beyond.
Thank you for reading my story and on behalf of the Kiteline team, we wish you all great health.
Candice with baby Holly
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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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At Kiteline, we are building something I’ve always wished existed. Even before I got cancer and was inspired to make it happen. Something that looks at me as a whole person – mind, body, soul – and helps me be the best me I can.