Colorectal cancer survivor Candace Henley educates others about the disease

Henley is making it her mission to put a spotlight on colorectal cancer as cases among younger adults are on the rise.
6:41 | 03/29/23

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Transcript for Colorectal cancer survivor Candace Henley educates others about the disease
ABC. >> WE WILL BE TUNING IN. HIS RECOVERY, SIMPLY REMARKABLE. MARCH IS COLORECTAL CANCER AWARENESS MONTH, AND ACCORDING TO THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY, CASES AMONG YOUNGER ADULTS ARE ON THE RISE. THIS MORNING WE'RE HIGHLIGHTING ONE WOMAN WHO IS FIGHTING HER WAY THROUGH THE DEADLY DISEASE AND HAS MADE IT HER MISSION TO HELP EDUCATE OTHERS TO SAVE LIVES. >> 20 YEARS AGO, CANDACE HENLEY'S LIFE DRASTICALLY CHANGED. >> I COULDN'T STAND UP. I WASN'T SO MUCH PAIN. FINALLY, WHEN MY COUSIN SAID, THAT'S IT, WE'RE GOING TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM. >> SHE SOON GOT THE DIAGNOSIS: COLORECTAL CANCER. WITH BILLS PILING UP, THE SINGLE MOTHER AND HER FIVE CHILDREN BECAME HOMELESS. >> MY YOUNGEST WAS 4 AT THE TI TIME, AND I ASKED GOD, I JUST WANT TO SEE HER TURN 18. I WOULDN'T ASK FOR ANYTHING ELSE. BUT IN RETURN, I WOULD DO WHATEVER I NEEDED TO DO TO SAVE SOMEONE ELSE FROM GOING THROUGH THE TRAUMA THAT I AND MY FAMILY WENT THROUGH. >> COLORECTAL CANCER, OR COLON CANCER, IS THE SECOND MOST COMMON CANCER KILLER, AND WITH CASES ON THE RISE IN YOUNGER PEOPLE, IT IS ESTIMATED THAT BY 2030 IT'LL BE THE NUMBER ONE CAUSE OF CANCER DEATH BETWEEN THE AGES OF 20-49. >> COLORECTAL CANCER IS ONE OF THOSE THINGS PEOPLE DON'T LIKE TO TALK ABOUT. DIGESTIVE COMPLAINTS, IT PREVENTS PEOPLE FROM GOING TO THE DOCTOR TALK ABOUT THEIR SYMPTOMS OR EVEN JUST TALKING ABOUT SCREENING. >> SCREENING FOR COLON CANCER SHOULD BEGIN AT AGE 45, EARLIER IF YOU HAVE A FAMILY HISTORY. IN ITS EARLIEST STAGE, THERE COULD BE NO SYMPTOMS AT ALL, WHICH IS WHY EARLY SCREENING IS SO IMPORTANT. NOW MAKING GOOD ON HER PROMISE, THE THRIVE'SER MAKING HER MESS HER MESSAGE. FORMING THE BLUE HAT FOUNDATION TO RAISE AWARENESS, PARTICULARLY FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR, WHO ARE 20% MORE LIKELY TO GET AND 40% MORE LIKELY TO DIE FROM COLON CANCER. >> WE HAVE PEOPLE OF COLOR AND LOW INCOME COMMUNITIES DYING UNNECESSARILY BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE THE INFORMATION. IT'S NOT COMING FAST ENOUGH. WE ARE TRYING TO MAKE SURE THAT WE CONNECT THE PATIENT TO WHAT THEY NEED. >> STUDIO, PLEASE HELP US WELCOME CANDACE HENLEY, THRIVER AND FOUNDER OF THE BLUE HAT FOUNDATION. WE GOT OUR HUGS. >> THANK YOU. >> THANK YOU! YOU ARE 35 WHEN YOU WERE FIRST DIAGNOSED. WHERE DID YOU GET THIS, TO TURN YOUR MESS INTO YOUR MESSAGE AND MAKE THIS YOUR LIFE'S MISSION TO HELP OTHERS? >> IT WAS TRAUMATIC FOR MY DAUGHTERS AND I, AND I JUST COULD NOT IMAGINE ANYONE ELSE HAVING TO MAKE THE DECISIONS THAT I HAD TO MAKE AND NOT BEING ABLE TO FIND THE RESOURCES LIKE WE COULDN'T FIND. BUT THEN KNOWING THAT STATISTICS ARE STATING 20% OF AFRICAN AMERICANS HAVE THE HIGHEST RATE OF DIAGNOSIS OF COLORECTAL CANCER, AND 40% HERE WITH THE CHANCE OF DYING FROM COLON CANCER. THAT NUMBER IS RIDICULOUSLY HIGH. IT'S NOT BECAUSE OF ANY GENETIC MUTATION BUT BECAUSE WE ARE NOT GETTING IT FAST ENOUGH. SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE. >> TO THAT END, YOU SEE ONE OF YOUR MAIN MISSIONS IS A MESSAGE THAT FAMILY SECRETS KILL FAMILIES. EXPLAIN THAT FOR US. >> I DIDN'T KNOW I HAD A FAMILY HISTORY OF COLON CANCER, AND WE ARE A FAMILY FULL OF SECRET KEEPERS. I'M NOT JUST SAYING MY FAMILY, BUT FAMILIES IN GENERAL. WHAT GOES ON IN THE HOUSE STAYS IN THE HOUSE. THAT ALSO INCLUDES HEALTH INFORMATION. SO WE HAVE FAMILY MEMBERS THAT ARE NOT AWARE THAT THEY HAVE HEALTH CONDITIONS THAT ARE HEREDITARY THAT RUN IN THE FAMILY. SO WE HAVE TO STOP KEEPING THE SECRETS AND TALK TO OUR FAMILY MEMBERS ABOUT DISEASES THAT RUN IN THE FAMILY SO WE ARE NOT RUNNING AGAINST, LIKE I DID, A CONDITION THAT ALMOST KILLED ME BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW. I HADN'T ASKED. >> MAYBE THE GENERATION ABOVE DOESN'T FEEL COMFORTABLE TALKING, SO YOU BE THE REPORTER AND ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF. >> AND SHARE IT. I JUST -- AT FAMILY REUNIONS, BIRTHDAYS, WHEREVER YOU CAN. SHARE THAT INFORMATION. IF YOU DON'T TELL THE STORY ABOUT A FAMILY HISTORY, WHO'S GOING TO KNOW IT? AND THEN YOU ARE KILLING OFF YOUR FAMILY LINEAGE IS WHAT YOU'RE DOING. >> AND YOU HAVE MADE A TREMENDOUS IMPACT IN SO MANY LIVES, AND SOME OF THEM WANT TO SAY THANK YOU. >> ! >> HEY, MOM. >> HI, MOM! >> I AM SO PROUD OF YOU. YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A BEACON OF HOPE AND LIGHT IN DARK TIMES. I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR SHOWING US THAT IT'S OKAY, AS LONG AS YOU GET UP. >> YOU HAVE BRAVELY TOLD YOUR STORY. THAT STORY YOU HAVE TURNED INTO SUCH A POWERFUL TOOL TO REMIND PEOPLE TO ALWAYS HAVE HOPE. >> IF YOU INSPIRED ME TO GET SCREENED AND TAKE CHARGE OF MY HEALTH. >> YOU ARE A TRUE FIRE. >> YOU ARE MY SUPERHERO. YOU ARE APPRECIATED. I LOVE YOU, MOM. >> I LOVE YOU, AND I'M SO PROUD OF YOU. >> [CRYING] >> SITES MAKE YOU TEAR UP! >> MY GOSH! >> WE DO HAVE ONE OTHER SURPRISE FOR YOU. THEY'VE HEARD YOUR STORY AND WANT TO SUPPORT YOUR MISSION OF INCREASING COLORECTAL CANCER SCREENINGS FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT. SO THEY ARE DONATING $25,000. [CHEERS AND APPLAUSE] $25,000 TO THE BLUE HAT FOUNDATION IN YOUR HONOR. >> THANK YOU! >> HOW ARE YOU GOING TO BE ABLE TO USE THAT? >> WE CAN HELP A LOT OF PEOPLE AND DO A LOT OF THINGS WITH $25,000. OH, MY GOD! THANK YOU! >> HOW CAN SOMEONE LOOK SO GOOD WHEN THEY CRY? THAT'S NOT AN UGLY CRY, THAT'S A BEAUTIFUL CRY! >> IT IS! >> THANK YOU FOR THE EXAMPLE YOU SET. >> THANK YOU SO MUCH. >> OH, MY GOSH, I FEEL AMBUSHED! >> SORRY ABOUT THAT! >> IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY. THANK YOU SO MUCH. >> STAY IN TOUCH, PLEASE. ALL THE BEST TO YOU. FOR EVEN MORE INFORMATION ABOUT COLORECTAL CANCER SCREENINGS AND RESOURCES, FROM THE COLORECTAL CANCER ALLIANCE, YOU CAN S

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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