The Annual Conference for Young Women affected by Breast Cancer known as C4YW has officially come to an end. Yes, people gasped when they heard Jean Sachs, CEO of Living Beyond Breast Cancer, make the announcement and then exit the stage leaving Jennifer Merschdorf, CEO for Young Survival Coalition, with all eyes on her.
Jennifer is no stranger to catalyzing new found success in the name of change and I am proud of her. She is a strong woman who held that space and slowly dissipated tension that ended with an applause for Jean. Soon, the two were back on stage together hosting an armchair discussion with the experts including Don Dizon, MD., FACP, who writes a column on Patient Engagement for ASCO, Kathryn Ruddy, MD., MPH, who worked with Dr. Partridge for six-years prior to moving to the Mayo Clinic and spoke about freezing ovary chips for reimplantation after cancer therapies, and Leonard Sender, MD., the self-proclaimed “anarchist” who urged us all to unite and stand up for our consumer rights for a fascinating discussion about topics sent via text and twitter.
Even though LBBC and YSC have been partners supporting C4YW for years, it was soon announced that YSC will hold it’s Inaugural Conference the first weekend in March of 2015 in my home town of Houston, Texas. The Rodeo will have to wait while young women with breast cancer descent upon our great City for the first YSC conference. And I for one, can’t wait!
The final C4YW weekend was a total success when I was dancing with a new survivor roommate friend from Houston who recently completed chemotherapy and even though she felt uncomfortable without her hair, she soon was seen dancing around while twirling her wig in one hand and posing for photos. That was my personal highlight of the weekend, besides visiting Epcot for Super Sparkle Hours available only for those in conferences and staying on the property on Friday night where we had the place to ourselves. The last time I was there I was nine years old. Disney really is the Happiest Place on Earth, which is perfect for anyone diagnosed with cancer.
With almost six-hundred survivors, caregivers, family and friends in attendance, even I would not have been there without the continued support of Susan G. Komen. Komen was the Lead Sponsor offering scholarships for almost two-hundred in attendance and even Chandini Portteus, Chief Mission Officer from SGK was on hand during the Welcome and Opening Remarks when the announcement was made that took us all by surprise. And in my personal experience receiving so many travel scholarships while on my journey, Komen is almost always a sponsor. Thank you Nancy Brinker.
All in all, even though this was only my second attendance to C4YW, there is room for incredible growth as YSC charges forward with a conference of their own. Especially as we continue to mobilize our efforts to affect more young women around the globe, programs like the State Leader and Face to Face Support Group Leader will hopefully gain more opportunities to reach out and connect to those affected by breast cancer. Because as you can see from the photo above, these were the current State Leaders available pre-breakfast for a quick discussion before the C4YW programs started, which leaves room for recruiting, educating and training more survivors and caregivers to continue sharing the message of YSC that no one affected by breast cancer should ever feel alone, uneducated or unempowered.
See you all in Houston in a year!