Candace Weimer

August18th

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Candace Weimer

By Mike Youds
Daily News Staff Reporter

She’s one of those people who, when presented with a daunting challenge, reaches for the bookshelf.

Candace Weimer had many questions in 2005, no doubt. At age 38, had just been diagnosed with myelfibrosis, a bone and blood cancer that doctors said gave her two years to live.

“I call it a prelude to bone cancer, a prelude to leukemia,” she said, now brimming with facts. At the time, she found precious little literature of value. Her “cancer coach,” a professionally trained counsellor, had endured many complications with cancer but didn’t want to talk about them.

“I need to go find a book that can give me help,” thought the communications specialist and fitness instructor, something inspirational yet not without humour. She found a lot on the theories behind cancer and Lance Armstrong’s biographical It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life.

“Well, he’s not real to me,” said Weimer, who was a single parent residing in Saskatchewan at the time.

As the story goes, she set about writing her own, the idea being to “pay forward the knowledge that I had acquired.” She kept a journal as she underwent a five-month bone-marrow transplant, chronicling the wait for a stem-cell match, chemotherapy conditioning, the procedure itself, healing, complications and eventual recovery.

With the resolute determination of a true survivor, she’s now published When The World Dropped In On Me (DriverWorks Ink, 2011, $15.95, 117 pgs.). Her subtitle sums it up: A personal and unusual guide to help cancer patients and their caregivers survive.”

Her brother was able to donate the stem cells, but the transplant had to be done in Seattle — it was the only available facility —  with support from Saskatchewan’s Telemiracle Fund. Only six in 10 survive such transplants. She opted to treat the journey as though it was a final vacation with her parents. She wrote a possibly final farewell note to her son, who stayed behind. And she kept writing throughout the ordeal.

Within the account, she coaches survivors to maintain their dignity and sense of humour, to allow themselves to release emotional stress, and yet to stay focused on healing and not on the emotional baggage of others.

 “I think you have to take some breath in at times. You have to take hold of the situation when everybody around you is reacting, if you can balance it. People go a little crazy when you’re diagnosed with cancer.

Everybody reacts differently and there’s no right or wrong,” she added. “Stay focused on the ball. Stay focused on what you need to be to help yourself. Research and know your disease inside out … Then, I would also say, make sure you have yourself prepared to go either way.”

She also stresses the importance of blood and signing onto the international bone marrow registry.

Since her recovery, she met a man from Kamloops and moved out to B.C. She doesn’t look back on her cancer as a misfortune.

“I call it in my book a blessing. In the end, I appreciate my life so much more. You don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.”

Her book is available at Chapters or through her webiste, www.candaceweimer.ca.

“My goal is to make sure there’s a copy in every hospital and treatment centre.”

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Copyright 2011 Glacier Media Inc.

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