Woman Crush Wednesday.
We love to celebrate female movers and shakers who are successful locally, nationally, internationally, and most importantly, personally.
This week, we are so excited to highlight Dr. Candace Hrelec, laryngologist (voice surgeon) and current breast cancer fighter.
We asked her to share with us her story. It is the first day of November but breast cancer awareness is everyday (not just in October).
My name is Candace Hrelec and I am 32-year-old physician. After completing my Otolaryngology residency training at The Ohio State University, I had moved to Nashville, Tennessee where I was completing my fellowship in Laryngology (Voice Surgery) at the Vanderbilt Voice Center. I had just accepted my first job and completed my board certification. I was also busy finalizing plans for my wedding.
On May 17th, 2017 - my world changed. This is my journey with Stage II Breast Cancer and my journey from doctor to patient.
My journey began on May 17th when I was first diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. With our wedding date rapidly approaching I knew that I wanted to have all my surgery and reconstruction up front so that I could focus on my chemotherapy after our wedding and honeymoon - one step at a time I kept telling myself.
On June 1st, I underwent a double mastectomy with right axillary lymph node dissection followed by direct to implant reconstructive surgery immediately following the mastectomy. Two weeks later, I underwent fertility treatment to harvest my eggs in order to freeze them and still give us the possibility of having children in the future.
On July 2nd, I married my best friend and confidant, surround by 50 of our closest friends and family members, in the beautiful St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. We departed from St. Thomas for our honeymoon where we spent two amazing weeks traveling. The night before we were scheduled to return to the states, my anxiety levels started rising to the point where I could feel my chest tightening up - almost like a panic attack. I knew going back home meant that my journey was beginning anew, as I was slated to start chemotherapy on August 1st. Since then, I’ve undergone 4 cycles of Adriamycin and Cytoxan and I have just started my 2nd out of 12 weekly cycles of Taxol.
Even as a doctor, there is so much that I did not know about my diagnosis and treatment. I wondered if I was asking all the right questions, and at times, grew frustrated with my doctors, when answers weren’t specific enough for me. This whole journey has made me more empathetic with my patients, because I can only imagine how difficult it can be for non-medical professionals to grasp all the information being thrown at them. As a physician, I struggled and was overwhelmed with all the information that was being thrown at me during the many doctor appointments, surgeries, and treatments.
My goal has been to share my story with as many people as possible because I want women who are either going through treatment or just received their diagnosis to know that they are not alone. And my hope is that it can provide just that little bit of inspiration and encouragement on those days that have them down (and provide a little education along the way)!
Here is the link to my blog website: