LBBC entered the month of May in a powerful way as we hosted the 4th Annual Conference for Women Living with Advanced Breast Cancer: Enhancing Your Health and Quality of Life.
Over 250 people attended the national, two-day event on May 1-2 and got the information, support and practical resources needed to make the best decisions for physical and emotional health. TV personality Donna Deegan, New York Times bestselling author Bruce Feiler and prominent medical oncologist Judy E. Garber, MD, MPH, engaged attendees by delivering powerful keynote speeches.
The conference was exclusively for women living with metastatic breast cancer, cancer that travels from the breast to distant parts of the body such as the bones, liver, lungs or brain. An estimated 150,000 to 250,000 women in the U.S. are living with metastatic disease.
Workshop topics included confronting tough decisions, managing symptoms and side effects, communicating with children, triple-negative breast cancer, healing through writing, managing insomnia and fatigue, and planning ahead with wills and powers of attorney. Attendees connected with women and families and asked questions about treatment, research and quality-of-life issues during an ask-the-expert panel with some of the nation’s top healthcare providers.
Donna Deegan, evening anchor for “First Coast News” in Jacksonville, Florida, shared her inspiring journey of thriving while managing breast cancer. She encouraged attendees to “go out there and live it out, babe,” and assured them that stress is in fact the enemy of healing. After her initial breast cancer diagnosis, Ms. Deegan established The Donna Foundation, which helps women who are undergoing breast cancer treatment and have financial difficulties. She also created 26.2 with Donna: The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer, which she formally changed to 26.2 with Donna: The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer. Ms. Deegan has published two books about her journey with the disease, The Good Fight and Through Rose Colored Glasses.
Bestselling author Bruce Feiler talked about how he coped with his 2008 diagnosis of bone cancer and how his experience inspired his new book, The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illnessand theMen Who Could Be Me, in which he explores how he prepared for the possibility that his children could grow up without him. “Why do all of the cancer treatments sound like comic book villains?” he asked, just before the audience broke their silence to laugh. “It’s not often I can make chemo humor,” he said.
LBBC provided travel grants and fee waivers to many attendees with financial needs. Participants came from 30 states and several provinces in Canada. Besides obtaining critical medical information, attendees were also able to find resources for support by visiting exhibit tables, receiving complimentary Reiki and upper body massage services, meeting Mr. Feiler and Ms. Deegan at book signings, and networking with hundreds of women going through the same emotional journey.