Letter of encouragement to new Cancer diagnosis patients

Below is a letter I wrote back in 2007 after my first diagnosis with neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer. I wrote it to give people an idea of some of the meditations I was doing and the  music I was listening to and writing. I still send it out when I am approached by someone who seems to need it but am now also working on the cd idea as well. I hope the words help someone who needs to read them. I hope the words and the music make you stronger. YOU ARE A SUPER HERO and YOU HAVE THE POWER INSIDE YOU RIGHT NOW TO OVERCOME ANY PEBBLE IN THE ROAD. CANCER IS A BIG PEBBLE BUT YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!

Cancer encouragement letter

Hello! I heard about your recent diagnosis and cancer fight and wanted to write and let you know about my own struggle with pancreatic cancer. Diagnosed in February of 2007, I had the whipple surgery on April 23 at UCSD Thornton Hospital in La Jolla by Dr.Andrew Lowy. He resected my tumor on the pancreatic head. The whipple involves a restructuring of your insides. I lost half of my pancreas, stomach, duodenum – my entire gall bladder and ten inches of my small intestine. I had 150 stitches and was in hospital five days. I was cancer free for awhile and then the cancer came back. My entire pancreatic duct was filled with scar tissue and I had to have yet another Whipple revision surgery. This time, Nicholas Nissen at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles would perform the 11 hour operation on May 2, 2012.

I know how scary it can be right after a diagnosis. Your doctors advice is essential but that’s only part of your treatment. The other essential thing is your state of mind. Our minds are very powerful and we can give our minds and bodies the fuel to go the distance. Here are some ideas that helped me through my fight. I hope they can help you too.

 First of all, you need to get active now in giving yourself the ammunition your body and mind need to overcome. This is your body. No one else has to live in this body so don’t take everyone elses advice about your personal body. Read all you can about what your condition. Arm yourself with information about your disease. Find information about it on the Internet. Network with others who have experienced it.  Dont listen to statistics or doctors telling you that you cant do it. Doctors are important and we need them but they are practicing medicine. They often quote statistics when they should be telling us that every single cancer case is different. Each of us has a different fight and fire in us and some of us will not give up so easily. Some of us have more of a reason to want to continue life on this plane and some of us quietly give up and are too tired to fight. Be the person who fights, not the quitter! I have friends who were given three months to live and lived another 15 years! You need your doctor to explain procedures but doctors are human and they sometimes make mistakes. Listen to your doctors advice carefully, take notes but also look into alternative methods of fighting cancer as well.

Some excellent sources are the book “Beating Cancer with Nutrition” by Patrick Quillen, The alkaline diet (internet search) and The Gerson Therapies. Consider buying a Jack la Lanne Juicer and juicing organic carrots and veggies. As you chop the brightly colored veggies and put them in your juicer and as you drink your fresh juice at room temperature, picture the natural goodness of the juice washing over your organs and cleansing you of all impurities. Picture the juice as a natural, lush colored fuel giving you strength and nutrients to overcome everything.

Do a toxic evaluation of your life. Where are you being exposed to toxins? Do you dye your hair?  Do you smoke and drink alcohol? Use cosmetics? Get fake nails? Swim in chlorinated pools? Use detergents with chemicals? Use soap with perfume and artificial ingredients? Use deodorant with aluminum? Use toothpaste with artificial substances? Do you stand near your microwave? Use a cell phone all the time? Sit with your lap top on your lap? Do you live under power lines? Do you eat processed foods in bottles, cans, jars? Are all your veggies frozen? How long has that chicken been in your freezer? How healthy can it be now? How much sugar do you consume?  GIVE UP SUGAR NOW!!! Sugar is a friend to cancer and our bodies crave it when we have cancer. Sugar is in everything and our bodies turn everything to sugar – bread, pasta, potatoes, crackers, chips – all of it turns to sugar. Stop drinking sodas of any kind unless they are natural like Hansens or better yet, substitute club soda mixed with fruit juice. And give up all artificial sweeteners too. No more splenda or equal! Diet coke with aspartame? Caffeine? Having cancer means deciding which toxins are essential for your happiness and which toxins you can leave behind. If you cannot live without your coffee in the morning, that’s okay – drink your coffee but eliminate diet drinks. Or consider replacing your coffee with green tea or acai tea. Give up sugar and replace it with raw organic chocolate. Sugar, diet drinks and processed foods have been known to aid cancer. There is a healthy alternative to everything you ingest or use on your body. Hard alcohol can be replaced with organic red wine. Boxed and processed foods can be replaced with fresh and organic. Chemical free detergents and soaps are available everywhere. Now is the time to think about your toxic blueprint and how much you are absorbing.

Start becoming a human bullshit filter. Even well-meaning friends and family members start treating us like we are going to die, when they find out we are ill. They get that tragic look in their eyes like they are not going to see us again. They love us and they are scared too. That’s natural and okay. Its good that they realize they are grateful for you. You need to have an attitude of gratitude too now. You are blessed and lucky to be here on this planet.  But don’t give into the fear and doubt. You are not going anywhere. Tell yourself that you can fight this. Tell yourself all the things you are going to accomplish when this challenge is finished. Picture yourself doing the things you want to do when you are better. Picture yourself healthy and strong and embracing those you love, without the fear in their eyes. Block out negativity – Dont allow it into your space. Your strength of mind is the most important thing now and that will guide you thru this challenge.

You can believe in God or another deity of your choice but remember: all the strength in the universe is inside YOU. No external source can give you that strength. It is there – INSIDE YOU.  God or whomever you believe in, has already given you all the power and strength you need and its there, dormant until now when you need it. You can draw on that power and overcome ANYTHING. Yogis aren’t born knowing how to levitate. They get to a state of enlightenment thru practice. Our state of mind is something that requires cultivation and practice. Yes, prayer and faith are important – rituals are important – do them if they bring you comfort but most importantly, listen to your heart and feel the collective love of all of those who care about you. Let that collective love and your own resolve shore you up from the inside out and brace yourself for the most important fight of your life. Do allow yourself the luxury of feeling sorry for yourself –  (I say 10 or 15 minutes at most a day) let yourself cry and be angry and ask why me??? These are normal emotions and you need to give in to them and let yourself experience the grief. Your life will not be the same after cancer but in many ways, cancer can be a blessing both to ourselves and to those around us. I know it sounds weird but cancer can teach us how much internal and external strength we really do have, how resilient our bodies are and can inspire those around us by our toughest and tender moments and examples. Let yourself feel the grief and mourn your old life – and then pick yourself up, dust yourself off and do the following affirmation:

Picture yourself on a sandy beach or under a lovely blue sky. if you can get outside to the garden or near a living plant or sit near a tree, do so. Open your palms towards the sky to receive the healing light and warmth of the universe. Make sure both of your feet are firmly planted on the ground to keep you grounded. Picture warm, white light coming into your body thru your crown chakra (your soft spot) from whatever source you believe in. This source can be God, or the collective love of your family and friends, or the love of nature or any love source that makes you feel happy and safe. The light slowly comes in thru your crown chakra and fills you forehead, your eyes, your ears, your nose, your mouth until your whole head is glowing and filled with this light. You are so bright inside that passersby would see the light glowing from your orifices and have to put on sunglasses to look at you. The light travels thru your body…slowly… picture it going thru your body, your neck, your shoulders, each lung, your breasts, all the way down limb by limb, organ by organ to the tips of your toes. Take your time with this as the light travels. Picture your organs inside all pink and glistening and healthy. No blackness anywhere. Picture the light obliterating all darkness and dark patches in your body. As the light travels thru your body, your aura glows brighter and brighter and you are filled with overwhelming warmth and love from within that bursts out of you. You are glowing brightly and feel a sense of peace and warmth. Do this meditation for at least ten minutes as many times a day as you can. Do it after you allow yourself the luxury of a few minutes of self-doubt. Do it when you wake up in the morning from your bed and then again at night when you go to sleep. Carry a picture with you of your special place, the place that makes you feel at peace. For me it is the beach, for you it may be a garden or wherever you feel centered. When you look at that picture, of nature, or a special child, or a bird in the sky, do the affirmation again.

I also recommend making a cd of fighting songs – like the songs on my cd, Superhero and include songs like “The Toughest Girl Alive,” “I’m not gonna cry today” both other songs of mine. Make a positivity cd with songs like “Good day sunshine” or any songs that uplift and make you feel powerful.  Consider writing your own personal song that you will sing to yourself at your darkest moments. Words and music are so powerful and very important now. Make sure that everything you are taking in to your body and your mind is as positive and strengthening as possible. You can do this. You can beat the odds and overcome cancer entirely or at least prolong your life for many years to come. But you MUST believe it and say it aloud and silently as often as possible – every waking hour of the day. Remember, it’s not “IF I beat this thing, I may go on vacation.” Its “WHEN I beat this thing, I’m going on vacation to Fiji.” 

Words are powerful. Make the words you speak and absorb and share with others the most positive and powerful words you can speak. Your body wants to be well and you want to live. Start telling your body that you are in charge and you are winning this fight. And I believe you are a super hero who can conquer any obstacle. Now I want to make YOU believe it! Good Luck! Im here if you need me!




Cancer and the Power in YOU

I am currently working on a cd of my songs of empowerment – called “The Power in YOU.” I will leave this cd at cancer centers and doctors offices I frequent when I am in San Diego and Los Angeles and hopefully be able to send them by mail to anyone who needs one. I am raising money for this project now. The songs are all in the swing, blues and jazz style and are the songs I sing in my job as a blues singer. They celebrate love, life and inner power with titles like I’m the Toughest Girl Alive;” “Im a Super Hero” ‘Im gonna be just fine” “Im not getting older, Im getting better.” “Fit, fat and fine” and many, many more. You can donate to this campaign now or you can download these songs individually at Itunes or Amazon. (But then you’d have to pay for the songs!) To donate now go here:


I believe anyone can stand in front of a mirror or in the sunlight and say “Im going to be well. I will survive” etc but I believe that when these words are sung, it brings the music into our bodies and minds and souls in a sensory way. Speaking the same words does not have the same impact as singing the words. I am still touring all over the globe as much as possible, sick or not sick, Im on that bandstand most nights belting out the songs I speak of. When I sing “Im the Toughest Girl Alive! I walk thru the fire and I survive, I’ve been beat up, burnt up, broken down, but they just cant keep me down…!” The strength and power of these words coupled with the catchy melody and the belting nature of the words strengthen me from the inside out. My head is full of the music. My ears hear it. My voice travels thru my diaphragm, up into my chest cavity. I breathe deeply, stomping my feet in time. dancing, and singing and feeling the music all over my body and soul. My tongue and teeth feel the words roll across my palette. I am healed from the music from the tip of my hair to the bottom of my feet. I become the toughest girl alive in that moment and they just cant keep me down. Theres something magical about music and the way it touches us on so many emotional levels. Music is insidious. Music is pervasive. Music is spiritual. It sinks in and makes a home – an imprint – in your memory – on your psyche. Its why we remember that silly song from the 80s “867-5309” — Most of us of a certain  age group, remember the song but we cant remember our own cell #! Why? Because the song was sung to us and then we sang the song over and over. Its my hope that cancer fighters and anyone else facing a life crisis will sing “I’m a super hero! I’ll keep on fighting! Theres no way Im leaving without trying.” and BELIEVE THE WORDS. OWN THEM and make them YOURS. I m certain there is a reason I am still here and I dont believe in a God who decided who will live and who will die. I think its much much more complicated than that. We are given battles in our lives and how we face them is crucial. Its a moment of truth. How much do we love our lives? How much do we want to live? How badly do we want to stay on this plane with the loved ones we have? If we want it very badly, dancing and singing about how we will over come is just one tool i use to empower myself! Music and Words strengthen me and give me courage and guts when I need it most. They dont have to be sung to anyone else or shared with anyone. They can be your personal private songs that you sing in the shower or in your car or each morning when you rise. But I have been surviving and beating cancer since 2007 and i believe music heals.  “Im gonna be just fine. Im gonna be just fine. Im gonna live till 109. Im gonna be just fine.”

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, after the dust fell and i had a chance to calm now and really assess my situation;  I felt really lucky. My family doctor, Scott Mercer was trying to gently break the news to me and I said “Hey, if its my turn to go, Ive had a great run!” He smiled broadly and said that he had never heard a response like that from anyone who was being told they had cancer.  But I felt oddly optimistic about it  Not only had my cancer been found relatively early and was operable, but I had also been in the habit for years of writing and practicing empowerment thru language and song. I was raised in an extremely verbally abusive, dysfunctional family. My mom had her own nightmarish childhood w a mentally ill mother, an alcoholic father and one schizophrenic sibling, so she was taking care of an abusive group of adults at an early age. Children learn what they live, as the old poem says, and she learned to be verbally abusive, pelting me with insults and four letter words from the time I could walk. Because the names were so heinous and awful – (often mentioning certain body parts I didnt know existed), I swore to myself that I would never verbally abuse my own children. So as a young mother, i started writing songs to tell my kids how much I loved them and to tell myself I was good enough and worthy enough to be loved by other good people. Words have so much power and I had become a victim to the menacing four letter words of failure that my mom hurled at me. I reversed my own destiny by literally rewriting the script. I wasnt a “stupid girl who would grow up to be a criminal like my real dad,” (My bio-dad was in Chino State Prison at the time of my birth.) I wasn’t a “no good, useless, loud mouth attention starved bitch” when I failed to clean the kitchen properly. I was just a scared little girl and then a confused teenager looking for someone to tell me the words I need to hear – That I was capable. Smart. Pretty. Loved. I waited for a long time to hear those words from someone – and eventually, I just wrote the words myself. Cancer has blessed me and made my life better. One of the most significant ways has been my own ability to share my songs of power and most importantly, my words of optimism and positivity with others. I still have dark days where the pain is too great to do anything else but lay around and cry or give in to a pain pill fog. But laying around being sick somehow never prevents me from turning on the cd player and playing some of my songs over and over ” I wont let it get me down – i’m gonna get back up and stand my ground – I’m gonna show who’s boss to everyone who’s watching – I’m a super hero!”

and when I am blessed to sing these songs to an audience, sometimes magic happens. People come up and share their stories with me and I am honored to be the keeper of these precious memories and experiences. I am so blessed to be a singer and songwrter and be able to spread the words to blues fans who need the encouragement. Please consider donating to the cd if you can so I can offer it free to anyone facing a life crisis. Cancer will effect all of us at some point in our lives. Its what we do with this experience that ultimately defines the winners and the losers – the fighters and the quitters. Dont be a quitter. YOU can beat this and there are many of us around the world who believe you can do it!





candye ❤

Healing time in Amsterdam and the 2nd whipple anniversary.

I am the luckiest girl in the world and today is my one year anniversary since my 2nd whipple revision surgery! May 2, 2012! one year ago today I was laying in a hospital bed – getting ready for an 11 hour surgery to unblock my pancreatic duct. It had become blocked w scar tissue and I was almost unable to eat anything without horrible pain so i just didnt eat! And not eating is just not an option when I am trying to kick cancers ass. I need all the sustenance and strength I can muster for this fight.

Cancer has made my life better in ways I could never have imagined. I have been blessed to hear stories of courage, loss and survival from other people all around the world. Everyone wants to share their pain with me. I am so honored to be the receiver of their tragic stories and their happy ones. I feel so important – like the keeper of a precious secret or the holder of a priceless gem that someone has entrusted to my care. Thank you for sharing your personal pain with me.

Cancer has been a crazy struggle. Since 2007, I have endured two whipple procedures and painful shots monthly of sandostatin to keep the tumor on my mesenteric artery from growing. It hasnt grown at all since my last whipple revision surgery on May 2, 2012. I am staying here in amsterdam for three weeks with no shows. Its strange being here in europe alone. I couldnt have done this without the help of some very generous benefactors who paid my bills at home this month, and gave me access to a beautiful place to say for free! This generous gift is giving me the financial freedom I need right now so I can concentrate on healing. My friend Joris Van Wijngaarden organized my injection this month. The doctor will actually come here to the silodam to administer my shot personally!! I am so blessed by so many who care about me and my health. Sometimes I cry just from the sheer beauty of it. Sometimes I cry because I am weary of waking up in pain.  Sometimes I cry because I am so lucky to still be here when so many of my friends have lost their fight. I wake up wondering if I will have a day without vomiting or having horrible cramping and diarrhea. Sometimes I make it — I race to the toaster – throw the bread in — and wait. Those are good mornings when I can eat my toast before I vomit. Those are good mornings when I can leave the beautiful apartment I stay in without having to worry about the runs or the painful cramping – making me a prisoner, chained to the loo. I wait and see what my body has planned for me before I make my own plans. Will I be able to ride my bike today along a beautiful canal? or will I be trapped here – watching the swans and the water from my window? Either way, the day is beautiful and I am grateful whether I am staying in all day and looking at the boats on the water, or whether I am able to bike around these cobblestone  streets. To still be alive and strong enough to ride my bike, is truly a miracle. I have lost so many others to this terrible disease. I feel so grateful to be able to see a swan float by or hear a band off in the distance. To get on my bike and ride to the store like a real amsterdammer. 

Some days I am just chained to the loo. My digestive issues are so fragile and strange. Staying close to my bathroom and ordering food in is sometimes all i can do. 

so to celebrate my 2nd whipple anniversary- I will order some sushi in, and be grateful that I am still alive and healthy enough to enjoy it. I rejoice in my healthy body and each little digestive issue is just a pebble in the road. I can easily jump over the pebbles in my path because I am a super hero. I am a fighter. I am a stubborn bitch who refuses to allow stupid cancer to rule my life. I refuse to let cancer stop me from doing what I love.

I refuse to let stupid cancer derail my plans and dreams. Dont let unexpected illness or any other hardship derail YOUR dreams. Dig deep inside you for your own power to fight any obstacle in your path. God or the higher power, or the universe has already given you all the tools to succeed. YOU can do this and I am doing it with you. I am a magnet and a mirror for love, success and good health and I reflect back to you all the same blessings and all the guts you need to get thru any burden. YOU CAN DO THIS and I CAN TOO!


. Its the stImage 

w Laura Chavez healing me note by note

w Laura Chavez healing me note by note

With Laura Chavez in France by Alain Hijot

It is so important to have a support person when you are going thru a major life crisis. Someone who understands cancer or illness is a bonus. Having anyone in your corner who can help you understand whats happening to you is essential. My guitarist and friend Laura Chavez came into my life just two months before my cancer diagnosis. She didnt know whether I would live or die but Laura had already lived thru her own mothers illness from a botched surgery. Laura was uniquely suited to help me with my rare cancer. She loves mysteries. Her favorite TV show is HOUSE. She was pre – med before giving it all up to play guitar. Laura researched my type of cancer and armed herself with information. She knew more than most nurses knew about this type which affect 1 in 100,000 people. Laura goes with me to my appointments at her own expense and is involved with almost every decision I make from the dosages of medicines I take to the side effects some meds seem to cause me. Its been invaluable having someone around who loves me so much but can still be objective and neutral when it comes to making decisions. There are many others who love me – My two sons, Evan and Tommy – my ex husband Thomas, my ex – fiance adam — my closest friends and family members all have an opinion. And then there are fans and friends all around the world who care and feel they have a personal relationship with me thru my songs and my music. I love them all. I value their love and suggestions but of all the people in the world, Laura is with me most – checking in to the hotel; checking out; driving alongside me hour after hour witnessing the unpleasant side effects of the sandostatin shots or the numerous pills I take. Standing by my side on and off the bandstand – helping me choose the right songs on the stage – helping me choose the right foods at the dinner table. This journey would have been much more difficult without laura and I dont know what I would have done. I want her to know and I want the world to know that this girl is not just a great guitarist – she has huge heart. I have been so lucky to have Laura Chavez as my friend and musical collaborator during these last few years of uncertainty. I am grateful to her immeasurably. and i am truly healed by her on the stage every night, song by song – note by note. Thank you Miss Cha Cha Chavez. You really are the rhythm in my song.