The C Word

Andrew Junge, Pandora’s Box #13, 2009

Last night I had a dream, and when I woke up, I remembered it vividly. I was accurately telling someone, “Only 1 in 100,000 people have this kind of tumor, and only 5% of them are malignant. So what are the odds that my tumor is malignant? Miniscule. But mine is. And so I can only believe that I am going through this for a reason.”

On Monday I got the stitches out from my Paraganglioma surgery and also learned that the tumor had metastasized to the surrounded lymph nodes (which had been removed during surgery) and is classified as malignant. I’ll be going to see an oncologist to have further scans done to see if the Paraganglioma has metastasized to any other areas of my body, and also to discuss radiation treatment which I’ll probably be undergoing next month. Like I was explaining in my dream, these are so rare, there’s not many examples of how patients with cancerous Paragangliomas have responded to various treatment, but we think the outlook is pretty good, and I’ve already had my surgery, so at least I don’t have that to be worried about any more.

It’s funny how life works, though. On Monday, while everyone else was playing April Fool’s jokes on each other, I was staring at my grandma laying in her casket and contemplating how to tell my family I have cancer as we all gathered together after Grandma’s unexpected death. I just wanted someone to shout “April Fools!” and for Grandma to sit up in her coffin and for me to not have cancer any more. Though really, in the midst of it all, I definitely felt the peace of God and the prayers of so many people who love me. I just feel hope, and an urgency to live out and enjoy my life with Phil and little Lucy. Like I said before, not one day is guaranteed to any of us, and stepping into a car to drive down the highway is often more dangerous than facing disease or surgery. Not that we should live life with the gloomy expectation of death, but we shouldn’t waste a day, or put our hope in materialistic nonsense. Tragedy and sickness are never welcome, but the realizations they bring about certainly are!

I’m feeling pretty good about things now. The worst part is telling people, and I often feel the urge to comfort those I tell, and assure them that I will be alright. I’m sure radiation will be a low point in my life, but I’m thankful for the healthcare I can receive, and for all of my family and friends who will be around to help. Things might not be as busy with this blog, because there are only so many hours in a day, and I’d like to reevaluate how to use them, and how much time I spend working on things for very little financial compensation. Little Lucy is in the other room whining for me right now, so I think I’ll go snuggle with her for a bit and thank God for the blessings he’s given me!

top photo: Andrew Junge, Pandora’s Box #13, 2009

104 Responses

  1. Kyla Roma says:

    Sending you so much love, Mandi. You’re an inspiring, beautiful soul & I’m looking forward to when this is all behind you and your family xoxo

  2. Kim says:

    I can’t begin to imagine what you’re going through right now, both with the C word and your loss, but I stand in admiration and awe of your positive outlook. Life can be really shitty, and it’s how you deal with it that counts. Best of luck, Mandi! Go snuggle your baby :)

  3. Zulma says:

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. But trust that God will give you the strength to get through it. He never gives us more than we can handle. I will be praying for you and your family. Don’t worry about the blog. Enjoy, cuddle and take in as much of your family as possible!!!! They are truly your blessings.

    Lots of love and prayers headed your way.

  4. Oh, Mandi. We’re all here rooting you on and in your corner.

  5. Lune Vintage says:

    This is so frighting, but you’re young and strong, and I’m sure you’ll push through this. One day it’ll be a memory, so don’t forget to document it. It’ll be good to look back and remember how you stayed strong and got through the worst of things. Like you said, the scary surgery is over now. You’re a brave brave momma. I am thinking of you and look forward to the news that you are fully clear and on the mend.

    xoxox Jill

  6. Thinking of you Mandi. It must be a terrible thing to be going through, but your strength is shining through, especially as a Mum to your gorgeous little one. All the best x

  7. Rachel says:

    You will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. I can’t begin to imagine how hard this is but your attitude is so positive and kind.

  8. Lindsey says:

    Saying some prayers for you and yours. From one mama to another, may He be gracious to you and bless you and cause His face to shine upon you.

  9. Belle says:

    Your words emanate so much strength! I am sending good thoughts and wishes your way. You will be fine lady, but you already know that. Bless you and your family. xx

  10. anto says:

    Mandi, I admire your incredibly gracious and positive outlook. We are all rooting for you and sending you our hearts, thoughts and prayers. I wish you and your loved ones all the best!

  11. I wish you all the strength and all the positiveness in the world that you need right now. The love you already have and that is the best thing. Wish you the best recovery ever.

  12. Tonya says:

    Oh Mandy, I don’t even know you and I almost started bawling at my desk. My prayers will be with you and Phil as you seek God’s guidance in the next steps. May you feel His all sufficient grace pour over you as you go though this like never before.

    Will miss your more frequent posts, but family is definitely your priority and we understand that. Blessings and hugs.

  13. Hannah says:

    Thank you for sharing this with your readers. I so appreciate your honesty and wish you all the strength in everything that is to come with this.

  14. Vanessa says:

    How horrible for you to have to go through this but you exude such calm and strength already. I think you are right — blogging might be a fun hobby, but at the end of the day it’s the people in our lives that matter the most. Spend as much time as you can with them. We’ll be here regardless ;)

  15. You are amazing. Your attitude towards life is inspiring and really makes me want to approach my day differently. Sometimes I get caught up in how busy things get and take A LOT for granted. Thanks for the reminder. Please know that we are all wishing you a fast recovery. Happy to hear that you are surrounded by good folks who LOVE you.

  16. Liz says:

    I am so sorry to hear this scary news. For what it’s worth, please know that you are in my thoughts and that I am sending positive energy your way.

  17. Maria says:

    Walking hard roads takes strength, faith and support and from reading your words and following your blog I know that you have all these (and many more) abundantly in your life! I will continue to pray for you and send lots of love your way. God will guide you through this!

  18. Elle says:

    This is beautifully written and your attitude is so inspiring. Wishing you the best on this journey.

  19. You’ve been in my thoughts, thank you for sharing. I recently had a life scare and met with a counselor yesterday as I realized I was having a bit of a meltdown. He reminded me it is just as important to feel the scary and sad and hard things as it is to feel the love and happiness and fun of life, and boy was that a good reminder for me. I feel a lot freer now to just sit with my feelings for a bit and share them when I need to.

  20. Kathy says:

    So much love and positive thoughts on your journy

  21. Noelle says:

    hi, my biology teach is a retired micro cell biologist in cancer research and she was teaching one day and one of the boys in my class spoke up about his moms friend having cancer and how she cured it. Look in the body’s PH levels and how to switch them over from acidic. Cancer thrives in and acidic PH and if you can flip your system over to a alkaline PH i think that would really help. Look into it and do some research its and alternative method:) Ill be send lots of prayers your way,
    xoxo, noelle

  22. Verity says:

    I am so very sorry. I can’t imagine how scary this is for all of you. You and your sweet family are in my prayers, Mandy. God be with you all on this journey as you walk in faith with Him.

  23. Rebecca says:

    I’m so sorry. Long-time reader, first-time commenter. I’ll be keeping you in my prayers.

  24. Allie says:

    I’m so sorry, Mandi. I’m a longtime reader but don’t usually comment – I just had to say something. We’re all pulling for you. You are handling this with such grace, and I’m sure your family helps. You’ll be in my thoughts.

  25. I’m really sorry that this has happened to you but I’m happy that you already have a positive outlook on it. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  26. There is a load of emotions you are going through right now, I am sure. Mourning a loved one is hard enough but to be a young wife and mom and to learn to deeply trust God with your life so that you can live long as your loving grandmother did would be another HOPE too. My heart is hurting for you and I pray that Jesus will comfort and give you strength and His assurance through every step of the way. May there no longer be any signs of cancer in your body and that you will astound those around you and use it as a way to testify His healing power! My God, do not forsake Mandi!

  27. achariya says:

    Hey there! I have been following you for quite some time, and reading your recent cancer posts gave me a moment of sad compassion. I know how you feel, I’ve been there, I’m going through chemotherapy, and the missing days of life given to treatment and tests really suck. *hugs* to you and much understanding. I’m glad you have God to support you through all this. Connecting to the source of love is most important.

  28. Sarah says:

    It never rains but it pours, does it? I am so sorry that you are dealing with two unwanted surprises at once. I am glad you are focusing on hope. Please keep us posted on your treatment.

  29. Ashley says:

    Oh Mandi! I am so sorry for your recent news and the passing of your Grandma! You have such an amazing, positive attitude!! I have full confidence you’ll make it through and be that much stronger. I’ll certainly be thinking and praying for you and your family. So much love to you!!!!!

  30. melanie says:

    thank you for sharing. honesty means so much during hard times. there are people that you don’t even know thinking about you and hoping that things begin looking brighter soon, soon, soon.

  31. anoushka says:

    my thoughts are with you. i hope you get well soon.

  32. Anissa says:

    Mandi, Even though I only know you in the blog world, this made me cry. I have a little girl a few months older than Lucy and I just can’t imagine what you are going through. You have such a strength in your words. I’m sending you all of the love, hope and prayers in the world.

  33. Stephanie D. says:

    I can’t imagine how hard this is. Thank you for sharing your strength and positivity and I really wish you and your family the best…

  34. Alyssa says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that it was classified as malignant. We are sending all of our thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes for you and your sweet little family!

  35. Sarah says:

    I am a longtime reader (but rarely comment) and I just wanted to say that I am so sorry for the loss of your grandmother and for your diagnosis. I had my first encounter with the C-word when my father was diagnosed in 2011…not something you can prepare for in any way, but it sounds like you have an amazing attitude and a wonderful support system. I will keep you & your family in my thoughts and prayers!

  36. Susan says:

    May you have strength when you need it and comforting arms when you can’t find it.

  37. heather says:

    MANY many hugs and prayers for you right now. This is all so huge, but you have a loving family and such a great attitude. You can do this!~

  38. Valerie says:

    Sorry to hear this news. You and your family will be in my thoughts. *Hugs*

  39. Elizabeth says:

    So much positive energy directed your way right now. You are in my thoughts and your bravery is inspiring. You go, girl.

  40. JoAnn Stevens-Flores says:

    Thinking of you Mandi! Keeping you in thoughts and prayers. Big Hug!

  41. Dora Panariti says:

    Mandi I send you all my positive vibes, energy and of course love. I bet it’s really a tough situation, but you’re a trooper. Brave, inspirational woman to all of us. Like Elizabeth said, You go, girl!!! Let’s beat this thing and keep going with all the great stuff that’s out there for you, Phil and Lucy! :D

    Lots of love,

  42. kate gabrielle says:

    I am so sorry :(

    I really admire your positive attitude and strength. Whenever I’ve fasted obstacles (and none of them as terrible as what you’re going through) I’ve completely crumbled to pieces… you are one truly amazing lady <3

  43. Lisa W. says:

    OH Mandi…god bless ya!!! Have been through cancer with my Mom and my loving sister-in-law…aka…my best friend! Your positivity is SO HUGE, I love to hear that. Hang on to that when your feeling blue!!! It is VERY important to be positive. Thinking of you everyday, and thanks so much from ALL of your blog readers for keeping us up! In my thoughts in prayers…take care!!! xo

  44. Tracey says:

    You are in everyone’s thoughts! Get well!

  45. Brooke says:

    I am so sorry. I am just so, very sorry. I can’t even imagine what you’re going through, but your calm resilience is truly inspiring. I know you don’t know me, but you really will be in my prayers. I wish you all the best and a very speedy recovery! You snuggle that baby!!
    Hugs from Germany. xoxo

  46. danielle thompson says:

    Mandi, I just have no words. I’ve been thinking about you so much, wondering how you are. And the hand you’ve been dealt the past few weeks and months is just incredible. Your strength and positiveness inspires me and I do believe that God knows you have the strength to get through this. I cherish your outlook on life and you are right, savor every day with your loved ones. You are so richly blessed with such an amazing family, and extended family, I can only imagine the kind of immense support system you will have, as well as all of these people across the globe that care so much about you. I will be praying, praying and praying some more!

  47. Susan says:

    I’m a stranger but I’ll be thinking and praying for you.

  48. kris says:

    Oh Mandi, my heart just sank ALL THE WAY DOWN in the floor. I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years now so I’ve followed most of the story. I just know you’re going to get through this fine. Life tests us, but you are strong, full of life, and have an excellent medical staff to help you through this!

    All my love from Atlanta, GA.

  49. Josefina says:

    This post brought tears to my eyes. You are so courageous and inspiring. I wish you a quick recovery. Lucy is lucky to have you as her mother. You are amazing.

  50. paula strong says:

    being open will help you stay more positive, for those down days hold Lucy close. God has the controls and you hang on prayers to you1 Paula

  51. Tin says:

    I’ll be sending you well wishes from across the seas – praying that your radiation treatment can be successful and that Phil and Lucy can look forward to a healthy wife/ mama in the near future. Thinking of you!

  52. Veronica says:

    Prayers to you Lucy.. Have you read Louise Hay books??? I know it has helped my aunty through.. Lots of love xx

  53. Gaby says:

    You are such a lovely person. I have visited your site for sometime and always look forward to it. You give so much goodness out through your blog I hope you know that you are loved. My prayers for you.

  54. You are truly the most beautiful and strong blogger I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. I am so blessed I got to meet you in person because you are one impeccable lady.

    Thinking + praying for you. x

  55. Kelly says:

    I wish you all the hope and joy in the world. Stay positive.

  56. Alysse says:

    Sending thoughts and love to you during this life changing experience! You’ll be great!

  57. Visit here often but haven’t commented before (from what I recall). Just want to offer up some positivity and good vibes for you on this journey. All the best, lovely lady.


  58. Jen says:

    I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I wish you the best to stay strong and positive during this rough time.

  59. Mimi says:

    I just recently started reading your blog and even though I don’t know you in person, your story brought tears to my eyes. I have a 9 month old and can’t imagine dealing with what you are going through right now. You are such a strong, positive person and I know that will help you get through this. Remember that miracles happen everyday. You are in my prayers and I know I will be reading your miracle story soon. Lots of love…

  60. Beth Iversen says:

    I love your positive and realistic view. These situations help us put our priorities in the right order for sure. Sending positive vibes from Kansas.

  61. heyjenrenee says:

    OH, my friend. My heart goes out to you and I’ll be praying extra prayers for you. You are so strong and so brave and I love you. xoxoxo.

  62. Hi lovely, sending hugs, prayers, thoughts and all matter of good stuff your way!

  63. Sherry C. says:

    Sending hugs and prayers to you.

  64. Casey says:

    My prayers are with you right now! My mom has been going through treatment for stage 2 breast cancer since November, and I am amazed continually at the level of courage going through cancer treatment brings out in a person. Especially those with a strong faith in God. May He give you strength and your doctors wisdom as you go forward with treating this.

  65. Sandra Lomas says:

    hi Mandi
    sending you hugs, love, and prayers.

  66. Nadya N. says:

    Praying for you and your family, you’ll get through this! I know you will and it’s going to be one of those thing that makes you so so soooo strong and more awesome than you are now. It’s amazing how brave you are :-) God bless.

  67. Angie says:

    I have bene a long time rader and never left a post until now. I wish you a speedy recovery! Lots of prays from NJ!

  68. marianne b says:

    Stay positive! I am sending you lots of healing and loving light. Saying prayers too!

  69. jeny says:

    Sending continued thoughts and prayers your way. Keep staying positive and come back here and let us know if we can do anything to help you. I know the community you built would be more than happy to help anyway we can.

  70. Lenore says:

    My heart and thoughts are with you and your family Mandi. You are one strong woman (from what I read on the blog) and I am cheering for you (from a faraway blog reader).


  71. Gillian says:

    Hooley dooley. Your attitude is spot on. Wishing you every good result. I look forward to the day you post a YIPPEE! and it’s all behind you. Yes, go enjoy that baby!

    : ) xx

  72. Krissy says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re going through. Sending you positive vibes for good health!!

  73. Mary says:

    Hi, my name is mary and I’ve been reading your blog for a while now. By the way, your blog is very cute and I love your sense of style. I am old enough to say that I was a married (young) lady in the late 1970’s, so a lot of the things you like and I see here are things I might have actually had at some point or another in my life. Like the vintage stitchery pictures and home accessories, throw pillows and things like that. Anyway. I wish you all good things as you face your recovery process. Good things and a SPEEDY recovery. Keep us posted. xo mary

  74. Marie says:

    Sending positive healing thoughts your way!

  75. Kristina K. says:

    Your blog has been one of my favorites since back in the SIS days and I hardly ever comment. I just wanted you to know you and your family are in my thoughts. Sending you lots of hugs…..

  76. Di says:

    My prayers will be with you Mandi, now and in the weeks to come. Each day think of this, that all these people from all over are praying for you. God hears these prayers and he will be with you, Phil and little Lucy. He will grant you strength and his love will be with you. Take care.

  77. Naomi says:

    Praying for you Mandi, that the Lord our God of hope, power, healing, strength & comfort would wrap His arms around you and give you the peace & strength you need to face the journey ahead. Also that He would grant Phil the same as he takes care of you and sweet little Lucy. And praying for healing, that the cancer has not spread and that the treatments will be effective and quick! Blessings to you momma!

  78. Zorah says:

    Sorry to hear about your grandma’s sudden passing and the big C. I’m sure you’ll get through this and will have many happy years to come. Sending my thoughts and all the positive vibes I can your way.

  79. Kristian says:

    So much is happening in your life right now (like you need us to tell you that, but-)! Prayers and positive thoughts are definitely being given over for you and your family. You are amazingly brave and positive in face of everything.

  80. Ashley says:

    Mandi, I’m sending lots of love and positive vibes your way. Xoxo Fearsy

  81. Monique says:

    You are one strong woman. You have a great outlook on your health. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Enjoy every minute of every day with your family. I’m glad you have such a strong support all around you.

  82. I’ve read your blog for years and am a little ashamed that this is what prompted me to comment for the first time but like so many of your loyal readers, I just wanted to say I’m thinking of you and yours. May your truly admirable inner strength carry you through this x

  83. Kim Stark says:

    Hi! my name is Kim. I read and love your blog from here in Southern California. I want to add my words of encouragement to all the others above. Your grace and strength are truly admirable. (you are also a darn good writer!) Please keep us updated as you start your therapy. You will be in my thoughts in the coming days.

  84. liz says:

    oh mandi! i am thinking and praying for you. my heart is going out to you right now. if there is anything you need please don’t hesitate to call me. you know i’m right around the corner.

  85. Ruth says:

    I’ve been following your blog for months and I kind of feel I know you in a certain way. I’m really sorry you’re going through all this. You’re a strong woman. You really are. Your point of view about life and couples has made me think more times than I can remember, and I feel that encouragement is the least I can “send” you in return for your wisdom.

    Lots of love from far far away Spain.

  86. Kathy says:

    Wow. I’m so utterly awestruck by your bravery. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and I’ve never commented, but I feel moved to after reading about your journey and the courage with which you are facing everything. Best wishes for you and your beautiful family–you are in my thoughts.

  87. Renee says:

    You are inspirational. I am saddened that you are faced with such a situation, but your hope and optimism is so lovely. I wish you a quick and easy recovery, and that with time every last bit of you is A-Okay. Best wishes and lots of prayers to you and your family.

  88. Robin says:

    Stay Positive Mandi, and take care of yourself and your family because that’s most important right now just check in with us from time to time to let us know how your doing!

  89. Christine Gibson says:

    I’ll be keeping you in my prayers.

  90. kim whitten says:

    Just wanted you to know you and your sweet family are in my prayers.
    Your faith and strength is a wonderful example for that dear little Lucy.
    May God bless you and keep you….xo

  91. micaela says:


    I want to hug you. And I won’t stop praying for you. XO

    so sorry to hear about your Grandma :(

  92. Brittany says:

    You are so strong and love your words in this post!
    I will keep you in my prayers!

  93. Robin says:

    I am sending you healing thoughts, and holding you in the light. Blessings to you and your family, Mandi.

  94. Miranda says:

    Sending love and good vibes to you and your family.

  95. Karolynah says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us and for sharing your admirable attitude towards it all. You’ve touched my life very deeply today and I thank God for you and for the blessings I have in my life and sometimes take for granted. I pray that He continues to give you strength and faith through it all. Thank you for making us part of it. Much love and blessings to you and your beautiful family.

  96. Carin says:

    I want to make you the biggest batch of cookies ever made! You are such an inspiration and I admire you greatly! Not only did you touch my life today, you have brought lots of sunshine to my life every day. When I go vintage shopping I always and will always think of how rocking awesome your style is! You are going to kick this cancer out of the park girl! Much love and rainbow positive flowers your way!

  97. Maggie says:

    I used to read your Candi Mandi blog on a regular basis but fell out of the habit of reading blogs regularly Something was pulling me to check in on you. This is not the kind of news I was hoping to find but you will definitely be in my prayers.

  98. Mandi, I have been praying hard for you and your family. I know there will be good news soon I have faith! You are such a strong inspiration!!

  99. Sarah says:

    You’re in my thoughts. I’m hoping a speedy and full recovery comes to you soon.

  100. Rachel says:

    Amen sister!

  101. Katiecupcake says:

    i’ve been trying to think of something to say for days and days. i obviously have no idea what you are going through. i can’t imagine it. but i know how amazing you are. and how wonderful you are. i’m sure that you’ll have a full recovery. i’ll be praying for you. if you ever need anything, let me know. i know i’m far away, but just know that i’m happy to help in any way you think i can. it’s so hard to ask for help (at least it is for me), but i completely admire you and i would be happy to do anything.

  102. Bonitiful says:

    My dear, my prayers will be with you for as long as you need them, everything is going to be alright. Be Strong !!!
    Sending blessings.

  103. Heather says:

    I’m sure it’s hard for you to talk about, but, just so you know, I’m sure that lots of people wouldn’t mind seeing posts that help us understand whether you’re OK physically, since that’s number one.

    Best wishes!