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My First Breast Cancer Conference - New Friends, Inspiration, and a Cheesesteak

Last September, I was selected as one of 23 new Community Connectors for Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC). LBBC is a national non-profit that provides a host of resources and support services for individuals affected by breast cancer. Throughout my treatment last year, I found LBBC’s resources to be very informative and useful, so when I saw that they were looking for volunteers to represent the organization in their local communities, I jumped at the opportunity.

The new Community Connectors were trained in Philadelphia over the course of 4 days. The training coincided with LBBC’s annual conference, where hundreds of survivors and co-survivors took part in workshops covering a variety of topics from hormonal therapies, managing finances, to FDA approvals.

The first night started off with a Community Connector introduction dinner, followed by “Shimmer and Shine” fashion and beauty soiree. It was a fun evening of makeovers, beauty tips, and fashion geared for people affected by breast cancer. The next day was a full day of keynote speakers, exhibitors, and breakout sessions. On the third day, the general conference attendees participated in group yoga. Meanwhile, the Community Connector class was engaged in a full day of learning the ins and outs of the LBBC organization. We also did some role playing and practiced talking to people about LBBC’s mission and services. On the last day, our class drafted plans on how we plan to spread the word about LBBC within our communities.

Kudos to the staff at LBBC for the amazing planning that went into the entire conference and Community Connector training. Snacks were well stocked and there was a variety of healthy food selections. The agenda was well-planned and kept us engaged throughout the weekend.

Naturally, one cannot leave Philadelphia without a cheesesteak. I ventured outside of the city to a town called Manyunk for mine -- a quaint shop called Sorrentino’s Deli served the most delicious sandwich.

I know that traveling all the way to the east coast can be costly for someone from Hawaii. Luckily, as part of being selected as a Community Connector, LBBC paid for a generous portion of my plane ticket, and covered by meals, hotel, and conference registration fee. There are other travel grants and fee waivers available outside of the Community Connector program. The energy and inspiration that you experience from being part of such a large event focused on breast cancer is not something that is available in Hawaii at this time. I would definitely encourage anyone affected by breast cancer to attend a conference. If you are interested in attending LBBC’s next conference, please contact me and I’ll be happy to help you apply for any grants and waivers.

In the meantime, LBBC has posted a number of the recordings and presentation materials from the September conference. You can view them at this link.

The Community Connector program is a 2-year commitment and our class will reconvene at the annual conference in Memphis next fall. See you there!

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