UPDATED 7/9: Raising Awareness with Candace Coffee

Candace

The world is less one amazing human being today. Candace Coffee was an inspiration to many, including myself. She leaves behind her two-year old twins, Jack and Jude, and their father Joe Hanawalt, as well as the myriad of friends and family who loved her. She will be loved and missed, forever.

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7/7/15 Blog Post: Raising Awareness with Candace Coffee

Usually, I reserve posts on relief or humor for Friday. However, I learned something last night about a high school friend of mine, and I felt it was important to post it now. Although I haven’t seen her since junior college, we have been friends on Facebook, and I have followed her health struggles from that viewpoint. I always wished there was something I could do to help. Raising awareness is one way to help, so I’m doing that now.

My friend is Candace Coffee. She is the mother of two-year old twins with a friend and former supervisor of mine from my days at Camelot Park, Joe Hanawalt. They have had their fair share of struggles in their young relationship. In a Facebook post, Candace describes the health issues one of their twins was born with and how he has overcome them:

When Jude was born, I did something that only a foolish first time mother would do. I made impossible promises to him by the time he turned 2:
1. The hole in his heart would be closed and healed.
2. His feeding tube would be removed.
3. His Torticollis affecting his neck and eyes would resolve.
4. The plates in his skull would be smooth and rounded out.
5. His eye turn would resolve.
Not only did he completely obliterate these goals, he surpassed them. His eating sensory issues are completely gone and he can eat all food types with joy. He is so close to walking it could happen any minute. He is jibbering and jabbering away and his cognitive skills are advancing rapidly. His growth curve has shocked even his UCLA team of doctors. Jude, you are amazing. Thank you to everyone who helped to get him this far: Dr. Smale, Dr. Koos, Dr. Satou, Dr. Reemtsen, Dr. Ament, Dr. Idea, Dr. Willis, Dr. Suter, the best nurse ever Shirl Thomas.

Candace is an amazing, beautiful, optimistic woman. Last night, Joe posted this:

Friends. For anyone who knows/loves the mother of my beautiful boys I have sad and terrible news. Candace Coffee has suffered a major stroke and is in critical care. We are unsure how long we have left with her. Please keep her, her family, and our two amazing children in your thoughts and in your prayers. She is a gift to the world and has helped countless people as a patients’ advocate in so many ways. She changed me forever and gave me the greatest gift a person can give. You will be missed Candace. You are the love of my life.

I have so many feelings about this, I don’t even know how to express them. I just want to share who this wonderful person is and why we need to help.

Candace suffers from a rare disease called Devic’s Disease or Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO), which causes blindness and paralysis. She was in her mid-20s when the disease spontaneously appeared.

She became a graduate student in public health, working toward advancing stem cell research and becoming an advocate for patients like herself.

I will always remember the shared moment we had, watching Event Horizon with so many friends at the now defunct AMC theater in Bakersfield, and collectively being terrified by those words, “Forever.” I only wish there was more that I could do to help her and her family. I hope by sharing her story here, something good will happen for them.

I know that for me, it’ll probably be awhile, but I’m thinking optimistically. I’m hoping to see a cure in my lifetime.  ~ Candace Coffee

Update 7/10: A GoFundMe Campaign has commenced to help this family in their sad time.

6 comments

  1. As a fellow NMO patient, and a human being in general I hate to see this. Hearing of Candaces’ passing is beyond saddening. As my neuro team was tossing around the idea of NMO after years with a disgnosis of MS, Candace shared her story and it was so sad, but a great way to see how this was most likely what I had. I was so thankful that she had shared her story. Her family and especially her two sweet boys are in my prayers. We never know when our number is up, and unfortunately the world and our small NMO community lost a great person. Prayers for all who mourn her passing.

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  2. I’m so sorry to hear about Candace. She was so alive and beautiful. This is a huge loss to her loved ones and our NMO community.

    Again, I’m so sorry… Sandy

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  3. So very sorry to hear about Candace. Such a beautiful and young woman. Condolences to her family and friends. Thank you for all you did for the NMO community.xxxx RIP.

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