Why I keep coming back to the myCancerConnection Cancer Survivorship Conference

The first time I went to the myCancerConnection Cancer Survivorship Conference after being diagnosed with breast cancer, I remember feeling out of place, like I didn't belong there. “Why do these people keep coming back?” I wondered. “What are they celebrating?” I thought it was so odd. Little did I know that 18 years later, I’d still be attending the conference. And that in between, I’d not only serve as a member of the conference’s planning and steering committees — but also as the chair of one. What I liked about the first few Cancer Survivorship Conferences In the early days, I found myself fascinated by the science offered in the general sessions. Those spurred me to start volunteering at the Cancer Survivorship Conference. Soon, I was asked to be on the planning and steering committees. That got me interested in patient advocacy. Now, I represent the patient’s perspective when considering research proposals and grant applications, both on MD Anderson committees and those of other organizations. I also mentor other patient advocates. We patient advocates play a surprisingly important role, because it’s amazing how often researchers have never met a patient before and are not aware of the challenges we face during treatment. Not all cancer hospitals are like MD Anderson, where researchers are often physicians who work with patients in clinic, too. Some researchers are just off in a lab somewhere, so they don’t think about things like long-term side effects, or how certain types of chemotherapy can affect the heart and lungs. Why the conference remains special to me My favorite part of myCancerConnection Cancer Survivorship Conference...