By now most of you know LBBC blogger and volunteer, Caryn Kaplan, with her most recent blog illustrating her thoughts and emotions while attending her very first LBBC Annual Conference for Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer a few years ago. In the years since, Caryn has graciously donated her time, along with many other individuals, to help the conference run smoothly by volunteering for various tasks throughout the conference weekend. Here she shares why it’s important to her to volunteer for LBBC and what roles she’s looking forward to most at this year’s conference on April 26th and 27th at the Philadelphia Marriott West.
Looking back, when the email arrived that Living Beyond Breast Cancer needed volunteers to help at the Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference, I quickly hit the reply button and told them I was available…
As I sat on the train taking me into Center City Philadelphia the anticipation was growing inside of me. Yes, another Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer conference. Of course I knew what to expect since I had attended the previous year. As the train clamored down the rails and I stared outside at the quickly passing buildings, the excitement of volunteering at the conference was so hard to contain inside of me. I remembered all of those volunteers that so politely and gently guided us attendees through the conference. I had been volunteering for LBBC at other events but this was different. I was there to help people with whom I shared a common bond, all of us having been touched by metastatic breast cancer. Yes, I was going to be that gentle and compassionate face on the other side of the table. The thought of this was so inspiring and empowering to me. There were several positions that needed to be filled and I really didn’t care what I did because I knew that I was just helping someone and helping LBBC achieve their goal of bringing us all together.
The train stopped at the station and I quickly hurried up the stairs in the direction of the hotel where the conference was being held. I asked the volunteer coordinator where I was needed and off I went. I was a greeter and a moderator of a workshop session. I remember the first time I attended the conference the previous year, I walked into that same building, being greeted by that warm person and I was guided to where I should be each step of the way. It was comforting to me. Now, I had the chance to “pay it forward”. I couldn’t wait to be that warm, embracing face and actually see and meet all of the individuals who came my way. Yes, it was that bond. As a moderator of a workshop session, I attended the session, gave an introduction to the speaker and then afterward I helped facilitate the question and answer session by handing the microphone to attendees with specific questions. Again, the bond, the friendships made, the education and the thought of me being able to help others was such an enormous thrill for me!!!
Even though I spent a lot of time volunteering, the staff at LBBC was very conscious of the volunteers not missing a beat at the conference. I was still able to listen to the introductions, go to the breakout sessions I chose and socialize with the other women and men and of course never missed a meal or snack.
In the end, I know that each Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference I attend I will always volunteer. It is invigorating, just the thought of me supporting others and a great organization that gives so much back to the breast cancer community is so inspiring. This year you can look for me – I will be that friendly face on the other side of the table, guiding you to where you need to be, moderating, and adding to the list this year, sitting with new helpline volunteers from all over the country during their training.
I am thrilled to be that warm, compassionate person whose sole purpose is to just be there for you. Have a great time at the conference!!! I look forward to seeing you all there!