Atlantic Health System – Magazine Narrative A Song for Everyone

Megan Candio dreams of performing in an opera at Lincoln Center. She never expected needing to be in a nearby hospital for emergency medical treatment.

“I was on my way to a dress rehearsal for an Off-Broadway show when an airport van hit me on 79th Street and Amsterdam Avenue,” Candio says. She was rushed to St. Luke’s Roosevelt, right near Lincoln Center.

It was during her recovery from the accident in August 2010 when her doctors noticed a suspicious shadow and were concerned that it was cancer. “It was even scarier for me because cancer has greatly affected my family,” Candio confides. “Two months before the accident, my uncle died from cancer. My aunt died from cancer two months after my uncle, and my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer just before Thanksgiving.”

Megan was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and as a singer, she knew this could greatly affect her career. With the support of her fiance and family, she was ready and determined to fight against this disease. The only concern left to address was where she would go for treatment.

“As a professional singer, keeping my voice in tact was critical to me,” Candio expresses. “I looked for surgeons who had a great deal of experience treating thyroid cancer, especially those who may have operated on singers.”

Megan’s search led her to Dr. Eric Whitman, medical director of oncology at Atlantic Health System, who has over 20 years of experience and specializes in endocrine surgery. Her first appointment with him was in Fall 2013. “Knowing that he and Dr. Rachel Castaneda [endocrinologist at Morristown Medical Center] of Atlantic Health System would lead my medical team, comforted my family and me.” Her successful surgery took place 3 days before Christmas in 2013.

Megan is now thriving and living her life to the fullest. “I am training for my first marathon–the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon!” She began running once she learned she had cancer.

Not only is she still chasing her dream of performing at Lincoln Center, she is pursuing her new goals. “Before being diagnosed with cancer, different things mattered to me,” Candio begins, “Performing was a way to express myself. Now I view it as a way to give back.”

Megan has become passionate about creating opportunities for other singers. She started graduate school at Columbia University in 2015 and recently finished her second semester, working towards her M.S. in Nonprofit Management. After she graduates, she plans to work in development for a nonprofit performing arts company.

“I want to provide artists with the chance to share their gifts with the world. We live in a world that desperately needs to be moved by music, and I want to move the world any way I can.”