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2010 Fall Conference Gave Women A New-Found Strength: Empowerment

December 13, 2010

Written By Stacia Weaver

Download podcasts, transcripts and slides from the plenary sessions and select workshops.

Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s (LBBC) annual fall conference, News You Can Use: Breast Cancer Updates for Living Well, was a meaningful, uplifting and interactive educational and support tool for women and families affected by breast cancer.

Women were encouraged to embrace their diagnosis and draw strength through creativity and acceptance. The Philadelphia Loews Hotel glowed “pink” with women making awareness fashion statements with “pink” styled clothing, jewelry and breast cancer pin collections. Pins read phrases like Breast Cancer Thriver, Find A Cure, Pink is Not My Color and I Fight Like A Diva.

The day-long conference started at 9:00 a.m. A continental breakfast was served as LBBC staff checked in over 300 attendees ranging from women affected by various stages of the disease to caregivers and exhibitors.

Marisa Weiss, MD, and dance movement specialist Sherry Lebed Davis, co-founder of Healthy-Steps, The Lebed Method, were the plenary speakers for this year's event. They both lead the women in interactive, fun and inspiring speeches that were central to the theme: laughter. Each speaker encouraged women to live their lives to the fullest, be adventurous and feel beautiful.

Dr. Weiss incorporated a zumba exercise in the middle of her informative speech about leading breast cancer updates. The zumba intermission gave women a taste of a fun project that lifted spirits, encouraged laughter and moved core muscles. Dr. Weiss also advised women about healthy foods and eco-friendly containers for food storage to curb risk of recurrence and the best ways to combat the infamous “chemo brain” that many women affected by breast cancer face.

Ms. Davis brought props to her presentation that most people consider to be “children’s favorites.” She instructed women to blow bubbles, an exercise intended to encourage women to live freely and move away from the norm of being so tense after a shocking diagnosis.

The excitement of the women was displayed as they greeted each other with a hug and whispers of encouragement. Empty tables were filled and laughter followed as conversations echoed in the Loews Regency Ballroom. Women formed teams as they made their way to the workshops. There were a total of twelve educational workshops. Eating for Health and Wellness and Coping With Fear of Recurrence received the most traffic.

Attendees made use of the exhibit tables in search of “pink” paraphernalia that represented their breast cancer voyages. While most exhibit tables were equipped with fun merchandise that can help memorialize significant chapters in one’s breast cancer journey, other exhibit tables, like the Cancer Legal Resource Center (CLRC), provided educational information for women.

Women bought raffle tickets at LBBC's exhibit table for a slew of prizes including a make-up kit with products exclusively for those affected by cancer. LBBC publications were also featured on the table, and one woman was blown away when she spotted a photo of herself in Getting Connected: African Americans Living Beyond Breast Cancer. She had participated in the photo shoot nearly 10 years ago when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.

LBBC’s guides to understanding breast cancer were flying off the exhibit table. Women were collecting brochures for themselves and stashing extras to share with other women affected by breast cancer and for possible display at treatment centers. Another hot item at this year’s conference was the “Purple Is The New Pink” t-shirt. Although “pink” is often associated with breast cancer, the color purple is a signature component of LBBC’s materials and branding.

Women from many different walks of life, ethnic backgrounds and breast cancer experiences came to LBBC’s fall conference to lend their support to each other, form friendships and learn in-depth information about their diagnosis and other breast cancer concerns. Three attendees traveled all the way from Hawaii to attend this year’s conference! One disease had the power to bring women from all over the country together in support of one common goal: empowerment.