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Community Reaches Out to Mendon Family

A local family is "humbled" after friends and neighbors have reached out to lend a helping hand during their time of need.

Mendon resident Candice Hoff, a 43-year-old wife and mother of three is suffering from Polycystic Kidney and Liver Disease (PKD and PLD). PKD and PLD are autosomal genetic defects in which cysts are formed on the kidneys, and more rarely on the liver, and disrupt the organ function ultimately leading to organ failure.

Candice was diagnosed with the disease in her late 20s, but did not experience major complications until the past few years. After her health started deteriorating, Candice was referred to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in 2014 where she was enrolled in an experimental trial for a medication that has been known to reduce cysts in the brain. Although a number of Candice's family members had also been diagnosed with either PLD or PKD including her mother, aunts, and several cousins, the Hoff's and doctors were concerned with how rapidly Candice's disease was progressing.

"Her disease was too aggressive," said Candice's husband Joe. "The trial became our only option."

Over the past two years, Candice has traveled once a month to the Mayo Clinic for the trial medication which has had little success in holding off the disease.

Candice, whose family describes her as a people pleaser, incredibly selfless, and having a great sense of humor, has become bed-ridden over the past six months, spending over 20 hours a day in bed according to Joe. "She is in so much pain and has no energy," he said. Over the next month, Candice will be meeting with doctors to determine if she is a candidate for a liver transplant, the only option for stopping the disease from progressing.

With Candice's health issues, Joe has become her full-time caregiver along with caring for their three children aged 14, 11, and five.

Since word had spread about Candice's health issues within the community, Joe said there has been an outpouring of support for their family.

Back in December, two Miscoe Hill Middle school students, Elicia Newton and Julia Stewart, along with Elicia's mother Lisa, coordinated a collection for the Hoff family to help defray some of the costs the family was facing due to Candice's deteriorating condition. Friends and neighbors also set up a website for volunteers to bring the family meals during the week, and a GoFundMe account was established by the Hoff's friend Anne Marie Schulte in order to raise money for an adjustable bed for Candice and to help pay for a nanny to help take care of their children. The site is GoFundMe.com/m5u49xp8.

Joe said that when he heard of everyone reaching out to help Candice and himself, he was "blown away."

"It has really floored me by the amount of help we have received...by the number of people that want to help," he said. "I am so humbled."

As well as receiving help from their neighbors, the district schools are also reaching out to help the family with a number of fundraising drives, and according to Joe the local Scouts organizations and Knights of Columbus have also pledged their support to help with projects at the Hoff's home so that Joe can focus his efforts on caring for Candice.

"I am stunned by the fact that so many different people have offered to help us," said the Hoff's 14-year-old daughter Chloe. Hoping to shine a light on this rare disease, Chloe also hopes to hold a drive at Nipmuc Regional High School to raise money and awareness for PKD and PLD, with funds going to the Mayo Clinic for further research.

Joe said that asking for help has not been easy for him but as he thinks about the road ahead for his family, he is thankful for the support they have received from their community.

"It makes me stop in my tracks and gives




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