was blessed to spend this last weekend at the Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s (LBBC) ninth
annual Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference in Philadelphia. It was an incredible experience as I met
women from all over the country who were like me…women who are sharing the same
feelings of hope, feelings of fear, and feelings of uncertainty facing the realities of Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC).
I sat on the plane, I thought about how lucky I was to be able to go this
conference. But I am not going to lie, I was a little nervous about what I was
heading into. I was a busy 44 year old mom of
five who had walked into this mean diagnosis only eight months ago. I was suddenly going to be surrounded by
women who have lived with this for several years, and some for many years. Women who have had multiple
reoccurrences. Women who have had cancer
in their lungs, on their liver, up and down their spine, and endured large
amounts of physical as well as emotional pain.
Was I really ready for this? Was
I ready to take a glimpse into what was most likely going to be my future? Was
I ready to create friendships with others that were going to find that their
cancer had spread? Was I ready to create
friendships with others whom I would lose?
yet, I had a burning anxiousness to meet these women, to meet my sisters, to
meet the others who had been thrown onto the same sinking ship with me. Could we together find ways to keep the ship
afloat? Could the support we give each
other be what I was needing? I was about
to find out!
was invited a day early to be trained in the first group of women in LBBC’s "Hear
My Voice" outreach volunteer program. There were 32 of us ranging in age from 24
to 68 years old. (Yes, there are women with MBC in their twenties!) The training provided us tools to help better understand the
MBC community. We were given information on available resources to help us connect with
others living with MBC and help us to educate the public. I was thrilled to be
in a room with such strong voices and an outburst of thoughts and ideas. Everyone so
unique in their own way, but all sharing the same disease and the need to be
morning, I entered the large conference room with several of my new friends
that I had met the day before. We chose a table near the middle of the
room. As the meeting began, they
announced that there were over 300 women and men with Metastatic Breast Cancer
in the room. And in that moment, I looked around and found myself in the center
of a room full of others like me. I was in a room of women and a few men who
were living my nightmare. Suddenly, I
shuttered with chills as I realized that I was no longer alone with this
disease. I was no longer the only person
that I knew that had MBC.
They were surrounding me, all ages, all races, from all over the United
States. I was so overwhelmed in that moment that my eyes welled with tears. As the first speaker started, I couldn't hear what she was saying
because I could only look at the faces of those around me. I sat and studied
many of their faces, wondering how old they were, if they had children, and how they
were dealing with it all. But I then
quickly pulled myself together as our speaker, Dr. Minetta Liu was full
of insightful information about promising new pathways in treating MBC.
out, I was ready to attend this conference. I am so glad that I was able to go,
as it was very eye opening and informational for me. I met some beautiful women
whose new friendships are so dear to me. I
hated to say goodbye to them. But with today’s technology, we will be able to
stay in touch and support each other. And though there were moments throughout
the weekend that were hard to swallow, I walked away stronger. Until they find
the cure, the hope and courage of these women will keep that ship afloat.
If you are a woman facing MBC, I encourage you to go to this conference in 2016!
Thank you LBBC! I will be back next year!