Surviving Breast Cancer: Candye’s Story

candyeCandye found a lump. She wasn’t looking for it. When her hand brushed across her body, she recognized that something felt different. She wasn’t in the habit of self-exams, in fact, two months prior her mammogram results were clear. But it was there, unavoidable, a lump that proved to be cancer.

LifeWay Women sat down with Candye Cochran to learn more about her experience. Here’s how our conversation went.

Can you recall the timeline of your discovery and diagnosis:

I found a lump in August, it just felt different. I wasn’t one to do self checks like I should have but my hand just landed there [on the lump]. I waited a month before going to the doctor. My doctor sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound that very day; two days later a biopsy.

When did you know?

On September 18 I got the official word: Stage One. At that point my doctor was very positive; we caught it early.

Because the lump popped up after your mammogram?

No, the lump was there in June but the mammogram did not detect it. Make sure you check yourself. Mammograms are not going to get everything.

What about your treatment plan? Did you do chemo or radiation?

I didn’t have to do chemo or radiation. In October, I had a double-mastectomy. I do take medicine; I am on a hormone suppressor for five years

Tell me where your mind went when your doctor gave you a diagnosis.

My mind went straight to my family, I wasn’t worried about me.

I had so many different emotions: what does this mean?

My next thought was, I have the “c” word, and you know what that means.

So you thought about dying?

I tried to go ahead and face death early on because I didn’t know what was going to happen. I determined that really wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to me because I would be with Jesus.

There is such a process with everything. I had to wait over a month to have my surgery. As the days went on, I just started feeling this supernatural peace that I had never experienced before.

God was very real to you?

I am a worrier by nature. The real me would be curled up in the corner crying. I would wake up in the morning, and I would have to say to myself, I have cancer. I had to acknowledge it every day. The real me wanted to sit down and stop. But God just wiped the fears away. And life kept going: my husband still needed clean underwear and we still needed groceries. I still had to come to work.

What was most helpful to you during this time?

So many people prayed for me and I felt it. I was drawn to others who had the experience. Two of us [coworkers] were diagnosed with breast cancer within a year’s time. I felt like Lynn paved the way. She had been through it already, so I could talk to her. Several of us would meet in the cafeteria to talk about our experiences—they shared what they did and how they felt about this and that.

Support + Prayer Warriors

As Candye approaches her one-year survivor anniversary, reconstructive surgery is behind her and no longer does she wake up in the morning and think, I have cancer. Things are getting back to normal.

Perhaps the most remarkable moment of our conversation, Candye said with utmost sincerity:

“Cancer really wasn’t a bad thing for me. Yes, cancer is bad. But it could have been much worse. My experience wasn’t like most women—I didn’t have to take any treatments. I don’t feel like I can complain. I really didn’t go through anything. But spiritually, the Lord had worked in my life many times before. But this right here, I feel like it was just me and the Lord. If I had not gone through this, I would not know what I know now; I wouldn’t know God the way I know Him now. I feel like I conquered fear through this.

What about you?

Have you learned a life-changing lesson through cancer or other difficulties? Have you experienced God in a new way? 


  1. KarenMO says

    Oh, absolutely! I just celebrated 15 years being cancer free, and I don’t know of anything that impacts your life more! I was just cruising along in my nearly perfect little world; our nest had emptied, I’d found full-time employment, and we were looking forward to retirement in 2000. Either in jest or all sincerity, I’d said I was going to quit my job 2 years before my husband retired in 2000, so I could clean out all the drawers, cabinets and closets!

    As it happened, I did indeed quit my job in the fall of 1998, but it was because I’d found a large lump in my breast, and it has proved to be stage 2-B. I always got my mammograms, and I always felt that my lump was not there one day, and was the next day. It was just that quick. Of course, biopsies and surgeries were performed, I did ten months of chemotherapy, and then thirty radiation treatments, complete with tattoos.

    I experienced every emotion imaginable, as did my family and friends, but in retrospect, it was the absolute best thing that ever happened to me. My friends and family also experienced lots of emotions, and as any cancer patient will tell you, it was I who ended up comforting them. Go ahead. Ask a survivor, and I bet she/he will tell you that their people were so traumatized that they spent hours comforting them. It’s just the way it is.

    I had grown up in a Pentecostal church, but had fallen away as a teenager, and had not be in a church, except for weddings and funerals, and the occasional Christening, in 36 years. 1998 was the year that Oprah was talking about Grateful Journals, and I think that’s what helped me find my way back. No, not to Oprah, but to God. My radiation ended in May, and I decided that July 4 would be my Declaration Day. I was fully cancer-free, and had regained my strength, and on the closest Sunday to July 4, I showed up at the local United Methodist Church. In 2000, when my husband retired, he too joined me there, and this is why I look at cancer as a blessing. It brought me back to God and church, and although I was already a nice enough person, with many friends, family and loved ones, I needed God, and I’ll always think I would not have made it back to Him without the life event.

    All stories don’t end this well, but I think that even for those who end up losing their lives, that cancer probably had a positive mental impact on their lives. Of course, we don’t want everyone to have cancer, but it’s interesting how such an awful disease can bring some good to a life.

    • Amy says

      Thank you for sharing your journey! What a beautiful thing for something so destructive to bring restoration to your life.

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