New Year, New Perspective

This entry was written by Erin Pianko, a breast cancer survivor who attended last year’s Annual Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer:


Erin is on the left


I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I should have been worrying about planning a wedding and starting a family. Suddenly, I found myself swimming in an ocean with hungry cancer sharks.  As well as being desperate for comfort and guidance, I also looked for humor and the glimpse of hope that my life would somehow return to normal.  It didn’t take me long to learn of organizations like Living Beyond Breast Cancer and the Young Survivor Coalition.  For many women, it takes time to warm up to the idea of attending a survivor conference.  But, hungry for information, I applied for a scholarship to attend the 9th annual Young Survivor’s Conference in Dallas. It was only four weeks after my diagnosis. 

This disease takes an aspect of control out of your life and my way of dealing with this loss was to attend the conference to meet other survivors, share my story, learn as much as I could and get involved.

Starting the Journey

The day I left for the conference I was excited and nervous.  I put my wig on and went to the airport, not knowing what to expect. 

When you wear wigs you start to spot them a mile away.  I learned this when someone approached me at the airport asking if I was attending the conference in Dallas. 

It would appear that my journey had begun before I even boarded the plane!  The survivors I met at the airport and while I was at the conference have been so important to me in this last year.  You can not put a price on that kind of support.


9th Annual Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer


Giving Back

The organizations represented at the conference gave me ideas of how to get involved to help end this disease. I have felt an obligation to give back since research done in the past is currently keeping me alive.  Six months after the conference I participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure and raised over $11,000.  Participating in this event was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

At last year’s conference, I felt the need to embrace ‘being in the club’, the club that none of us ever wanted to join. Sure it is ‘pink’…but think about what this ‘pink’ stands for: …

a united front to live life to the fullest and end this disease forever.

I have a different focus in attending the 10th Annual Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer this year.  My goal is to seek out women who have recently been diagnosed and be their cheerleader. I want them to have hope that they will get through treatment and be healthy again–words I needed to hear a year ago.  Whether you have just been diagnosed or are a twenty-five year survivor, think about attending the conference this year!

 Learn more or register for the 10th Annual Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer.

3 thoughts on “New Year, New Perspective

  1. Hello. I signed-up to go to the conference yesterday, exactly one month after finding-out I have breast cancer. I’m 37 and have a 7-month old baby that I have been nursing and therefore it went undetected for awhile. I started my neo-adjuvant treatement two weeks ago. Thanks for what you wrote here, it helps me keep things in perspective. I look forward to meeting others at the conference, who, in a kind of way, act as mentors having started this breast cancer journery sooner…no journey we ever wanted to take, but are in together. Thanks again…hope to meet you in Atlanta!

  2. Thank you for this comment Hilary…we have shared it with the education department who is in charge of planning this conference. We’re thrilled you’re joining us in Atlanta & look forward to meeting you there!

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