I, like most people, tend to hold celebrities in higher regard than non-celebrities. Christopher Walken is one of my favorite actors; Walter Payton ranks at the top of my list of heroes; and having dinner with Kevin Mitnick sits firmly at number 2 on my bucket list; (number one has been, and always will be, to kiss Carrie Fisher). But are celebrities really better or more important? Since starting my interview series, I have looked into interviewing people who are NOT celebrities; people who, in my opinion, outshine and are more important to this planet than Johnny Depp, Kim Kardashian, or LeBron James. (Let’s get serious here, why the hell do we care what Kanye West and Kim named their kid?)
A proud alumni of Florida State University (#GoNoles!) with a B.S. and M.S. in International Affairs, Candace is a rare disease advocate from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. When she’s not hitting the books at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law (she is a Juris Doctor candidate), Candace spends her free time cuddling Kona, her Boston terrier French bulldog mix, her boyfriend of 4-years (not necessarily in that order) and tinkering with her Ford Mustang.
A lot of people in the bleeding disorder community know who you are, but for my readers who are “clotters,” who are you?
I’m a bleeder, I have a rare autoimmune blood disorder called Immune Thrombocytopenia or ITP. It causes my body to attack and destroy platelets, so I end up bleeding internally. When my platelets are low, I generally have a lot of nasty bruises, petechiae, and I could be risking my life if I hit my head or experience a trauma. I was diagnosed May 1, 2014, at 27. It was a huge shock and totally life changing. I am lucky to be alive, while in the hospital my platelets dropped to 3,000 (a normal person is sitting around 150,000-300,000).
Who is more badass: Rocky or The Rock?
I’m going to have to say The Rock, because he’s a badass on and off the screen. Also because he owns a French Bulldog and I’m biased!
What advice do you have for our little blood brothers and sisters?
Never let your disorder get in the way of what you love. I believe we can always find a way to live life to the fullest while dealing with our pesky blood issues.
How many pairs of shoes do you have?
This is a good question, I’m afraid of the answer! I’d say somewhere around 40 pairs, and I might wear 10 of them regularly. Mostly flats.
If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, would you still have a bleeding disorder?
Tough question. I guess I would have to say no but that’s because my bleeding disorder was likely triggered by toxic chemical exposure at my old job. They dumped me when my doctors realized steroids weren’t working and chemo was on the table. I wish I could go back in time and turn down that job offer.
If you won millions in the lottery, what is the first thing you would do with the money?
Pay off my student loans, debt, and same thing for my parents. If that is a given, my second “first thing” would be to start my biotech company.
What has been your biggest challenge in life and how have you overcome it?
I would have to say ITP, because I was diagnosed at 27, so I had lived over a quarter of my life as a healthy person. I take everything one day at a time while keeping in mind there is a bigger picture. If you think about the bigger picture, little setbacks won’t bother you as much.
What is your favorite/least favorite food?
Favorite food is probably pizza, with fondue as a close second. Least favorite would be watermelon, I can’t stand the texture!
Is there anything you wish you could do that your bleeding disorder prevents you from doing?
Donating blood. I’m O+ so I know a lot of people could benefit from my blood when I have no anti-platelet activity.
What movie made you cry like a baby?
Marley & Me. If you haven’t watched it, get a box of tissues.
What has having a bleeding disorder done to your life in a positive way?
It gave me a chance to work on changing the world. I have had so many unique and powerful experiences as an advocate for blood disorder and rare disease patients. I never imagined I would connect with so many people from all over the world and establish meaningful relationships. It totally changed my mental health after being diagnosed; I found a purpose for living.
What books have changed your life? Why are they important to you?
This is another tough question! I have always loved A Tale of Two Cities; I’ve read it in English and in French. I also love works by Anna Politkovskaya, she wrote about Russian politics and Chechnya, which I studied in undergrad and grad school.
Thank you Candace for taking time off from your busy schedule to answer a few questions about your life. It was and honor and privilege to learn a little more about you. #HemoLove little sister.