As I wrote about in an earlier post, I was invited to be a panelist for a session about blogging during the 2014 Living Beyond Breast Cancer Fall Conference in Philadelphia during the last weekend of September. I was honored to be asked and without hesitation, I said yes. The two other panelists slated for the panel were Katherine O’Brien who blogs at I Hate Breast Cancer, especially the metastatic kind and Nicole McLean who blogs at My Fabulous Boobies. As things turned out, Katherine couldn’t make it due to various unexpected travel/job complications. It was a disappointment to not meet Katherine. It was, however, a pleasure to meet Nicole and our moderator Lu Ann Cahn. Both have heard the dreaded words, you have cancer, and both are writers like me.
So how did things go?
First and foremost, being in a room with 500+ breast cancer survivors (using the label for lack of a better one) was pretty amazing. It was a genuine privilege to be among so many other women in various stages of their cancer experiences. When we were all gathered together, it felt like one gigantic support group. Obviously, there were women of different ages, backgrounds and stages of diagnoses. Some were bald, (yes, Joan, you aren’t the only one), some were older, some were younger, some wore pink, many did not, some were with a caregiver, most were not, a few were men, some were metastatic, some were triple negative, some were feeling really good and some clearly were not and the list could on and on…
Yes, it was a diverse group, but yet it was not. That intangible bond was there. The I know what’s like to have breast cancer bond.
The panel discussion I participated in was great and went really well. Enthusiasm was high. The questions were many. The co-panelist and moderator were top-notch. We hopefully motivated some who were there to take the plunge and get started blogging. I hope so because I believe so strongly that every voice matters. Every single one.
An added bonus was getting to meet Amy Durfee West (twitter handle @Amy Durfee West ) and Roxanne, aka @TeamRoxy, who both attended the blogging session. Thank you, ladies, for attending; it was wonderful to meet you!
In addition to my session, I attended a presentation called, “Metastatic Breast Cancer: Treatment Strategies,” led by Dr. Clifford A. Hudis of Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The highlights of his talk were many, but his most simple, nothing new, but powerful statements stuck with me the most; two of them were:
1) We need to aim higher for better treatments for metastatic patients and we can afford to do this. We cannot afford not to.
2) Patients do not fail treatments; treatments fail patients.
I also attended a session called, “Coping with a Breast Cancer Diagnosis,” which was an open-mike jam session about various topics. I wish I could have listened in on more sessions, but it’s tough to be in two places at one time!
The biggest take away for me from the whole conference experience might be this…
Celebrities who share their cancer stories might garner the most attention and seem to have the most influence, but give me a room full of ordinary women with ordinary stories sharing about their cancer ups and downs any day.
These are the women who inspire me the most.
Finally, a big thank you to Living Beyond Breast Cancer for your invitation to be a speaker at this year’s fall conference. It was a genuine pleasure to participate in such a wonderful event.
And I am hoping to see some new ‘faces’ in the blogosphere soon because once again, everyone’s story matters!
Have you attended a breast cancer conference of any kind?
Would you like to?