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Singer Candye Kane Gives Cancer The Blues

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Aired 12/18/09

San Diego blues singer Candye Kane has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. Her latest CD is rising high on the national blues charts, she's nominated for a number of music awards, and Kane continues to make a remarkable recovery from pancreatic cancer.

San Diego blues singer Candye Kane feels lucky to be alive. She thinks her positive attitude has helped beat back pancreatic cancer.

Above: San Diego blues singer Candye Kane feels lucky to be alive. She thinks her positive attitude has helped beat back pancreatic cancer.

— San Diego blues singer Candye Kane has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. Her latest CD is rising high on the national blues charts, she's nominated for a number of music awards, and Kane continues to make a remarkable recovery from pancreatic cancer.

Last year, blues singer Candye Kane started to get stomach aches.

At first, she blamed the junk food she was eating after late night concerts. But the stomach aches continued, and began to radiate to her back.

After numerous trips to emergency rooms, Kane finally got the right diagnosis: pancreatic cancer.

"Well, of course when you're told you have pancreatic cancer, you think you're a goner," Kane says. "I mean, I definitely thought my number was up, and that was it. And I actually said to my doctor, well, if it's my turn to go, I sure have had an amazing run."

In some private moments, Kane allowed the fear to creep in. She cried, and felt sorry for herself. But after a few minutes of self-pity, she decided to do what she's done her whole life.

"I've always been a fighter…when bad times come around…I won't let it get me down, I'm gonna get back up, and stand my ground…"

Doctors told Kane they would operate to remove the cancer.

So Kane got ready. She read about 30 books on cancer. She went on a special diet, and completely changed her eating habits.

"And I just really powered myself," Kane recalls. "I bought a juicer, and juiced everyday, you know, carrot juice, and beet juice, and wheatgrass juice, and gave myself just the optimum strength that I could to face this."

Kane felt she was ready for the fight of her life. There was only one problem. She didn't have health insurance.

"But, I am in a very advantageous position, having fans all over the world," Kane points out. "People did benefits for me in Paris, and in Germany, and all over the United States, and sent me money, and love and emails and cards. And so that really empowered me to keep fighting."

Dr. Andrew Lowy was Kane's surgeon. He heads up the division of surgical oncology at the Moores Cancer Center at UCSD.

Lowy says Kane's surgery was technically demanding. He performed what's called a pancreatoduodenectomy last April.

"Essentially what it means is removing the head and neck of the pancreas, removing about a foot of the small intestine which is attached to that part of the pancreas, removing the end of the stomach, removing the end of the bile duct, and the gall bladder, and lymph nodes that are around that area," Lowy says.

After Lowy did that, and removed the cancer, he had to put all of Kane's organs back together.

"I tell most patients that from the standpoint of the stress on their body, having pancreatic surgery like this is much, much more stressful than having open heart surgery, for instance, which is something people can relate to," Lowy says.

After the surgery, no chemotherapy was necessary.

Kane left the hospital five days after her operation. Doctors wanted her to stay longer, but she wanted to heal at home.

Since her surgery, Kane has had three tests to see if the cancer has returned. It hasn't.

Kane thinks her positive attitude has something to do with it.

"Believing in the positive affirmations, saying them, for every one negative moment, I think you need to say five positive things," Kane says. "And having a goal. Picturing yourself after this illness, what you're gonna do, what you're excited about, what makes you want to live."

What makes Kane want to live is her two adult children, and her music.

She's back on the road now, sharing her songs with fans all over the world.

These days, a lot of cancer survivors come up to her after concerts and talk to her about their struggles with the disease. She says she feels honored to hear those stories.

And Kane thinks she'll be around to hear a lot more of them.

"I'm gonna be just fine, I'm gonna be just fine, I'm gonna live to 109, I'm gonna be just fine….

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