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Candy Turner

Candie Turner's business card tells you a lot about her: "Jim's Wife * Brian's Mother * Voracious Reader * Volunteer."

But it doesn't tell you everything. Like that she worked with Jim in the insurance business for 33 years. Or that she got breast cancer: Invasive ductal carcinoma.

"I was retired for a year, then I got cancer," she says, mildly amused and greatly annoyed by the irony.

Candie, 67, found out in the usual way. "I went to `Ohana (Yakima Valley Memorial's breast health center) for my mammogram in May 2018. It showed an ultra-bright tiny dot. They told me to come back in six months, and I did. They called me back for an ultrasound, then called me back and told me they would like me to have a biopsy.

"Courtney Lombardi, the nurse navigator at `Ohana, she's wonderful. She sat me down and said simply, 'You've got cancer. This is a rough week. It's only Wednesday and you're the fourth positive this week."

Candie got right in for surgery. She had a lumpectomy and three lymph nodes removed. Then it was on to chemotherapy and radiation treatment at YVM's North Star Lodge Cancer Care Center. She will also have Herceptin treatments every three weeks for a year. It will decrease the overexpression of a gene Candie carries that increases her risk that her cancer might reappear.

"I never knew anyone who had cancer until I got it," she says. "I told the person who cuts my hair and she said, 'Oh yeah. I had it three times.'

"I'm a coward about this," she says humbly. "But at North Star I'm constantly bumping up against very brave women. Going to North Star becomes the new normal when you're in treatment, but everybody's so nice you kind of look forward to it. My nurse navigator, Beth Palmer, is fabulous. You'd think she was always having a good day. I don't know if she is or not, but she never shows it.

"So what happens when I finish radiation? Ugh, I'll have to clean my house, I guess."

Chemotherapy was quite an eye-opener for Candie. And she would like to share her experience for others who might follow in her footsteps.

"The farther out I get from chemo the better I feel," she says. "I didn't even know I was feeling crappy!

"I had a real stew of side effects. My hair fell out in buckets, and I had no idea about chemo rash. It started in the web between my thumb and forefinger and ran up my arm. I lost my toenails. I looked at them and thought, those look weird. I bent over and pulled on one, and it just came out. The inside of my nose was raw, my mouth was raw, and I've got lymphedema in my left arm.

"I look so weird. I look so weird," says Candie. She is prone to repeating herself to drive home a point. She removes her blue bandana. "Look, fuzz! I look like an ostrich!" Jim bought her two wigs, but Candie says they're too hot. "Way too hot," she repeats.

"When I lost my hair, I looked in the mirror and I thought I know that head! I know that head. And when my son, who's bald, came up from the Bay Area for Easter, I looked at his head and I told him, "Yep, we're related. I know that head!"

If there is more to report, Candie can't recall it right now. "I blame it on chemo brain. I have chemo brain really bad. My husband is the most solid human being in history, and he is my memory. If I don't remember somebody's name, he does. If I don't remember a number or a date, he does."

Candie's easy humor gets her through. Her determination keeps her going. Between Herceptin treatments she and Jim plan head to their son's home in California for a visit. "I wouldn't miss it for anything. I call it 'the Drive the Kids Crazy Trip!' " And once more for emphasis she says, "I wouldn't miss it for anything."

*Editor's note: Candie Turner has finished both chemotherapy and radiation, and says she feels really good. The trip to see her son and daughter-in-law? "It was great. It was great!" she reports.