'I was worried about the delay': Fighting cancer amid a pandemic

It was the fall of 2019, when Candace Miller woke in the night feeling unwell.

“It was the middle of the night that I had a weird sensation in the middle of my head. It felt like a gush of blood or something, so it was a very abnormal feeling.”

A trip to the ER, made doctors suspicious that Miller may have suffered a stroke.

After several tests, Miller was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. “I really couldn’t even say the ‘C’ word. I couldn’t really mention cancer; I couldn’t really talk about it.”

She says her thoughts turned to her family and the fear of leaving them. “You know what happens, and I was laying in bed with my daughter thinking, ‘Am I going to be able to do this again?’”

Miller was told she would have surgery in the spring, but then the pandemic hit, leaving her worried with many questions. “My fear was that I wasn’t going to have surgery for one to two years and I knew that was the next step so I was worried in the delay because I knew that with cancer, it spreads.”

Despite worrying that her surgery would have a lengthy delay, Miller underwent surgery on May 29 and was declared a cancer survivor on June 16.

As a thank you and to spread awareness, Miller is now raising money for The Million Dollar Match. It’s a campaign where LHSC’s head and neck physicians have pledged to match donations to head and neck cancer research.

“What happens when you have thyroid surgery is that you can lose your voice. I have a voice still and so it’s like, 'OK, I have a voice,' even though I may not have, and this is a big impact to me, so I really wanted to use my voice now."

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