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A cancer diagnosis was not unfamiliar to Candis Shupe when she began noticing pains in her left breast. She lost her mother to multiple myeloma more than 20 years earlier and always had in the back of her mind that cancer would one day affect her as well. She scheduled a mammogram at the Huntsman Cancer Institute cancer care unit at the University of Utah Farmington Health Clinic. Following a biopsy in January 2019, Candis learned she had an aggressive form of breast cancer.
A mother of four—Camille, Carter, Jacob, and TyliJane, who range in age from adult to tween—Candis was concerned about how to tell her children, particularly TyliJane, who was eight years old at the time. Knowing TyliJane’s love for learning how to write computer code, Candis asked her what she would do if she had bad code. TyliJane responded, “You would need to find a way to reprogram and remove the bad code from the system.”
“Exactly! Guess what? Mom’s body found a way to make really bad code, and the name of that code is breast cancer.”
With a desire to make Candis’s cancer journey easier for her youngest, the Shupe family used the word “code” and a cancer cell plush toy from the Huntsman Cancer Institute Hospital gift shop to talk about cancer in a non-threatening way. The cancer cell plush became the family mascot, named “Cranky” by TyliJane.
Candis’s treatment included surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy, and intense radiation as part of the NOVEMBER phase II clinical trial. She currently takes regular hormone therapy treatments. Candis says she is incredibly grateful for her phenomenal care team and the care she received.
“My mindset through my cancer fight is trials and difficulties are going to come, but misery in them is optional,” Candis says. “So what can we do to make the journey better, not only for ourselves, but for those around us?”
Candis believes in the power of research. She has seen how far advancements in multiple myeloma treatment have come because of research since her mother passed.
She has also seen how research and advances in cancer screening and treatment can bring hope for a better outcome and quality of life. For example, the type of breast imaging Candis received can find cancer earlier than ever before. This imaging didn’t exist five years ago—meaning Candis might have been diagnosed at a later, less treatable stage.
Candis is motivated to ensure that others wholly unconnected with her have their cancer burdens eased as well. Candis has been a participant and fundraiser of the Huntsman SportsFest for multiple years. When the event turned virtual in 2020 due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, she asked her favorite modern aerobics fitness class, High Fitness, to get involved. High Fitness held more than a dozen classes in four different states, including Utah, Colorado, California, and Idaho, on the day of the 2020 Virtual Huntsman SportsFest. Collectively, Candis and High Fitness raised $11,500 for cancer research at HCI.
Because of Candis, High Fitness will be an integral part of the 2021 Huntsman SportsFest, offered as one of the participation options.
Candis’s enthusiasm, optimism, and desire to help others has led to her family’s motto: “Conquer Cranky.” Candis and her family are doing that with hope for the future—for themselves and all those impacted by cancer.