A familiar face, a familiar story

This entry was written by Jackie Roth, PhD. Jackie is a Postdoctoral Fellow at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who was diagnosed with Stage III A breast cancer at the age of 28. Every other Friday, throughout the entire year of 2011, Jackie will share a blog entry about her breast cancer experience. This year-long blog series is in honor of LBBC’s 20th anniversary.

To read Jackie’s previous entries, enter “ Jackie Roth” in the search box on this site.

A few weekends ago I attended LBBC’s annual Fall Conference in Philadelphia with hundreds of other women who were at all stages of breast cancer and recovery.  This year was my second year going to the conference.  I attended last year just three short months after my diagnosis, and now here I am again, one year later.
At this conference, survivors wear colored leis to designate how far out from diagnosis they are.  Last year I wore the lei that represented less than one year out from diagnosis, which was white.  But this year I was happy to join the ladies wearing orange leis, although orange is tied with red for my least favorite color!  But I was proud to wear orange that day.  The orange leis represent women who have been diagnosed more than a year ago, but less than 5 years ago.

I arrived at the conference early in the morning and found myself a little lost when I was looking for a table to eat my breakfast.  I realized that I didn’t know anyone there!  That is when I went back out to the lobby and saw my friend Katie who works for LBBC.  It was so comforting to see a familiar face, although I’ve only seen her once before at the conference last year!  She pointed me in the direction of the tables of other young survivors, which is where I ate and made some new friends.

Jackie (left) and some of the young survivors that she shared stories with at the conference.

After breakfast and the opening session, I attended a fitness class with many other survivors.  I chose this workshop because I’ve been having rib pain post mastectomy and radiation. The pain has been getting me a little worried so I wanted to know if there was a way to stretch it out.  But I felt so comforted in the exercise session when the other young survivor sitting next to me said that she had the same type of rib pain as me as we were stretching to the side.  We were further put at ease when the instructor said that the serratus anterior muscle, which is located in the region where I am having pain, is often affected post surgery and radiation.  So we were relieved knowing that we were not alone with our rib pains!

After exercising we headed downstairs for some lunch and I ran into a bunch of other people that I knew.  My friend Stacia, who also works at LBBC, was sitting at one of the tables.  I met her at last year’s conference right after we set up my blogging!  In addition, I bumped into the woman who ran a program that I attended last year called “Look Good – Feel Better.”  It is a program for any woman cancer survivor that teaches you how to use make-up and other techniques to make you look good and feel better like the name suggests!  She remembered me from the program and was so happy to see me!  I highly recommend this program to everyone.   

Finally, I found some other young survivors that I had met before!  It turns out that I was never really alone at all that day.  How could I be?  I was in a room full of survivors and caregivers that were so welcoming and willing to share their stories.  I am definitely looking forward to the conference next year! 

Jackie (center) with LBBC staff.

To read Jackie’s previous entries, enter “ Jackie Roth” in the search box on this site.

Did you attend LBBC’s fall conference? What did you like most about it?

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