Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mets On My Mind

Photo of Anna Rachnel & me at NBBC by Nancy Uvmer, NH.
This year May started and ended with two entirely different conferences -- the National Breast Cancer Coalition's Annual Training Conference in Washington at the beginning of the month and the annual meeting for the American Society of Clinical Oncologists in Chicago beginning Friday. This is an especially humbling opportunity to listen, learn from and talk to experts from around the world in every conceivable type of cancer, survivorship, palliative care, and clinical practice management.
         Pre-conference posts like this one, from Eric Rosenthal writing for OncologyTimes, point out that this won't be a "BIG THREE" conference -- cancers of lung, breast, and colon -- but " 'the year of small tumors' with the Sunday afternoon Plenary Session featuring studies on melanoma, GIST tumors, and childhood cancers." There are also significant developments in ovarian cancer, something that has been a long time in coming, according to Sally Church, a scientist and consultant.
         But before you get discouraged -- keep in mind that there are more than 1300 abstracts in breast cancer alone spanning six different categories, from prevention to triple negative cytology. There will be more than enough for me to feed on for the rest of the summer. Key? All the background work I can accomplish while I'm there so when (not if) a breast cancer breakthrough drops I'll be ready to catch it.

While I'm preparing for this conference the blogosphere's been on hyperspeed.  Last week my new column "Anchored Activism" was published in OncologyTimes. A number of people weighed in on the topic of NBCC's baseline report Deadline2020. My interest then and now is following research in the understanding and prevention of metastatic disease, the Bermuda triangle of breast cancer.
         In the meantime, in cancer culture Komen once again did something none of us could even make up. "Sometimes, I swear," Kathi Kolb said on her blog, "these posts write themselves." She was talking about the unbelievable new product for the cure, "Promise Me" perfume.  The line between fundraising, "brandraising" and mass consumer slop have just coagulated into something so divorced from cancer it isn't even funny. The ultimate irony, as Lani Horn pointed out, is that the smell of perfume makes the majority of survivors sick.  I'm one of them.  After treatment walking into any closed space - an elevator, conference room, even a hotel lobby - where women waft in perfume is enough to kick off a migraine.
         If we weren't talking about cancer some of this might be weirdly amusing.  But we are.  And according according to the Chronicles of Philanthropy, Komen is one of the most highly regarded charities in the United States. Thanks to the voices of Gayle Sulik, Anna Rachnel, and Katie Ford Hall, among others, there's a serious spotlight shining on all Komen activities.  In the coming months I'll be adding in my thoughts.
        Two more things.  Last week Brenda Coffee's post, "Hang On to Your Husbands" spurred a lot of thought about cancer and relationships. Cancer leaves everyone vulnerable and exposed.  A plague on anyone who preys on couples - or singles - during a stressful time.
         Then today, in her beautiful way, Marie created a forum for women to discuss their lives, before and after in "My Other Life."  The threads of my life have remained steady even though many of the details continue to evolve and change. What runs through mine is passion, reading, writing and commentary.  I love to laugh but I'm rarely frivolous. I've found, through my friends in the cancer community in general and the breast cancer community in particular, a place where all my interests fuse and I can best make a difference.  This has taken the greater part of 50 years. Thank God I've finally landed.

Later, friends.  I'll tweet you from Chicago.         


Debbie said...

Oh Jody, I love this. Thanks for posting and sharing.

"The threads of my life have remained steady even though many of the details continue to evolve and change. What runs through mine is passion, reading, writing and commentary. I love to laugh but I'm rarely frivolous."

Simply marvelous. I love the way you write and why you write and how I feel when I read your writing.

Thanks and can't wait to hear about the conference.
Love, Deb

The Accidental Amazon said...

I look forward to your reports on ASCO. xxoo said...

Yay!! It looks like this time I can leave a comment. Had to reboot. I'm so glad you're taking the advocacy role head on. There's no one better. You've become the much needed voice that addresses all women's cancers. Thank you, dear Jody.


Nancy's Point said...

This is a wonderful post. You are such an important advocate in cancer world. I liked your comment about the Bermuda triangle and mets. So true. I notice your interests are similar to mine! And isn't it nice to have this forum and place to fit in where we can utilize our passions. Good luck at the conference. I know you'll be sharing like you always do!

Jody said...

Thank you -

And after I put this post to sleep I realized I'd neglected a post from last week that stopped me in my tracks, from @adamslisa,on adult women losing their mothers. Last week was the anniversary of my mother's death, some 24 years ago. I miss her still.

Thank you, Lisa, for this:
"When Daughters Grieve the Loss of their Mothers."

Nancy's Point said...

Oh, Jody, I read that post of Lisa's too. I'm sorry you lost your mother when you were both so young. The grieving never really ends does it? Twenty-four years, since your loss, wow. So much missed. Thanks for sharing the link, I did read it.