texas oncology more breakthroughs. more victories
Some of our cancer centers may have important notifications found on the location page. View More Important Notifications x

Candy Friday: Finding Joy Through The Trial

Candy Friday

“You seek out a group like that, thinking you're just going to get maybe a little comfort here and there but what you create is so much more. It’s truly like a family,” Candy said.

Candy Friday
Breast Cancer

Candy Friday, a vibrant 62-year-old woman, found herself facing a daunting challenge in 2021. It all began when she noticed persistent swollen lymph nodes. Concerned, she wasted no time and promptly scheduled an appointment with her doctor. Little did she know that this visit would change her life forever.

As she anxiously awaited the follow up call from her physician, Candy's heart raced with anticipation. When the phone finally rang, she braced herself for the news she had been dreading. The doctor's voice trembled as she uttered the words, “are you sitting down?”

Candy's heart skipped a beat, but she mustered the strength to respond calmly,” yes.” The diagnosis was Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC), a form of breast cancer.

“I just said okay,” Candy said.

Surprisingly, Candy's initial reaction wasn't one of horror or despair. Perhaps that’s because she knew what fighting cancer was like. Her mother's was diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant with Candy, which meant that Candy grew up witnessing first hand her mother’s experience. Armed with a lifetime of mentally preparing for the possibility, Candy was ready to face adversity head-on, with unwavering strength and resilience.

Determined to conquer this new challenge, Candy sought the expertise of Michelina Cairo, M.D., medical oncologist at Texas Oncology-Houston Memorial City. From the moment they met, Candy felt an instant connection.

“Not only was she a brilliant physician, but she also genuinely cared about how cancer impacted me overall, both physically and emotionally,” Candy said.

The road ahead was arduous, with rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, as well as bilateral mastectomy. Candy described this journey as the most challenging she had ever Experienced.

"Candy's resilience and determination have been truly inspiring. It has been an honor to be a part of her healing process, not just as a physician, but as a supporter of her overall well-being. Together, we have navigated the challenges of her treatment, always focusing on her physical, mental, and emotional health,” Dr. Cairo said. “Candy's strength and positive outlook have been instrumental in her recovery, and I am grateful to have played a role in her journey."

Amidst the hardships, she discovered pockets of joy that kept her spirits high.

Candy found solace in her passion for gardening. Spending time outdoors, tending to her plants, and nurturing their growth brought her immense spiritual and physical fulfillment. It became her sanctuary, a place where she could find solace and rejuvenation.

Yet, Candy yearned for something more—a sense of community and support. However, the pandemic made it difficult for her to find the connection she sought. That was until she discovered a remarkable group that would change her life.

Enter Pink Phurree, a dragon boat team exclusively composed of female breast cancer survivors and fighters. The moment Candy discovered this group, her heart skipped a beat.

“When I learned this was about boating, I just flipped out because I'm from South Louisiana. I was born in Grand Isle. I lived there until I was 10. My father was a minister and a boat builder before that, but I grew up on the water,” Candy said.

Joining Pink Phurree was a no-brainer

Despite her physical limitations, Candy eagerly joined the team, even while still healing from her surgeries. Though she could only get in the water once a month due to ongoing treatments, the thrill of being part of this incredible group was immeasurable.

More than just a competitive team, Pink Phurree was a family—a support system that extended far beyond the confines of the boat. Candy found great comfort in the camaraderie and emotional therapy that came from leaning on her fellow teammates. Together, they navigated the choppy waters of their individual battles, finding strength in unity.

“You seek out a group like that, thinking you're just going to get maybe a little comfort here and there but what you create is so much more. It’s truly like a family,” Candy said.

For Candy, Pink Phurree became a lifeline—a sanctuary where she could find physical and emotional therapy. It was a place where she could be active, constantly pushing her limits, and where she could lean on her newfound family for ongoing needed support.

Candy's journey was far from easy, but she faced it head-on with determination and an unyielding spirit. Through the darkest moments, she discovered the power of resilience, the joy of finding solace in nature, and the indomitable strength that comes from being part of a loving community.


The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.