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C4YW: A Weekend of Support, A Lifetime Connection

April 27, 2011

Written By Stacia Weaver

The Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer (C4YW) was a weekend-long journey that allowed women to come together to learn more about the challenges that they face as young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

The only conference for women who are diagnosed with the disease before the age of 45, participants were intrigued by the energy, exuberance and vibrant atmosphere that was channeled through the social activities, plenary sessions, exhibit hall and 27 workshops offered at the conference.

It is quite natural for a woman to feel alone, angry and shocked after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) and Young Survival Coalition (YSC) created a conference that caters to the needs of young women who have concerns that deal with more aggressive cancers, fertility, relationship issues and treatment-induced early menopause, to name a few.

The social events of the weekend were infused with engaging activities that gave women an opportunity to relax, relate, dance, shout, mingle and more importantly, have fun!

The pajama party, The Ultimate Girls Night In, was the perfect place for women to feel a sense of comfort as the Pure Romance representative talked candidly about innovative ways to enhance a woman’s mojo and sex life. On Saturday night, the dance party was well received as women danced rhythmically to the likes of Miley Sirus, Beyoncẻ, Katie Perry, Rihanna, and much more!

To balance out the social and networking activities, leading medical experts Ann H. Partridge, MD, MPH, and Sabitha Pillai-Friedman, PhD, LCSW, moved the crowd with information that simplified up-to-date breast cancer research and shared insight on the importance of embracing self-image. Dr. Pillai-Friedman’s segment was followed by a question-and-answer session where women were able to share their specific concerns and hear insightful feedback.

By wearing color-coordinated leis, women were able to easily identify with each other’s diagnosis and feel an immediate connection in sharing a journey with someone else. White leis represented women who were newly diagnosed, while orange represented women who were nearly 10 years out from diagnosis. Purple represented women living well with metastatic breast cancer, green leis were for women who were up to five years in remission, and red leis were worn by women who were at high risk. Caregivers sported yellow leis.

Not only did the conference provide research-related workshops for topics that included genetics and hereditary risk, bone health, metastatic breast cancer treatment updates and menopause, but the conference also included a range of topics that explored quality-of-life issues.

Care for Each Other: Couples Coping with Cancer was lead by Ashley Warner, MSA, MBA, LCSW-C and discussed ways to problem solve, communicate effectively and strengthen relationships with partners during the difficult times of treatment and beyond. The ABC’s of Talking to Your Child About Breast Cancer, lead by Shenin Sachedina, DO, explored concerns of communicating with children by giving them the tools that they need to cope with an unsettling diagnosis.

The last day of the conference was welcomed by Rise & Shine Yoga. During this full circle yoga class lead by Daniela Ellis, women were able to recollect the weekend’s agenda and settle into a transitioning stage in preparation for travels back home.

Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Esq., an inspirational speaker, ended the weekend-long conference by leading the closing session that gave women tools to better manage fears and needs and discover a deeper connection of self, sisterhood and spirit.