I am on my way home now, sitting in the Atlanta airport with a two hour delay until I get to board the flight back to Sarasota. I was on a flight where 3/4 of the flight had been to the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. We are all tired but still there is endless conversation regarding the events of this week. Yes, I feel so grateful for the opportunity to be here to witness and learn amongst the researchers, medical professionals, and advocates that attended this session.
I attended the general sessions in the past, but this week I got a bird's eye view from the advocate perspective. Who were they? What compels these individuals to travel every year to this conference? I learned that many are traveling on their own dime, rooming together, or traveling great distances to come here. They come to learn and they come to voice the concerns and questions shared by many, including those who cannot speak for themselves, those breast cancer patients who get lost in the shuffle. Many of the advocates are survivors that feel compelled to stand up for themselves and those who cannot stand up. Others are standing up for those who are not here anymore. These women, many without formal medical training, learn the science and the terms. They immerse themselves in the science and are able to eloquently challenge the medical community. I heard the voices asking, even pleading, for the medical community to consider alternative therapies, to improve their communicate with patients, and yes, to be more HUMANE. They are also asking the practical questions regarding accessibility and parity for all.
So today I honor those advocates. Especially our very own locally grown advocate, Angela Long. Another big shout out to the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation that welcomes the advocates and hosts events and mentor sessions where leading professionals would gather each evening with the advocates. They would feed everyone and then provide perspective on the topics that were presented each day. I am talking about the heavy hitters of the breast cancer research world making themselves available to advocates for two hours each evening. Thanks to all of you. If it were on your steed alone, this nasty cancer would have been cured a long time ago. As far as I am concerned, these men and women are as important as the researchers. Thanks so much for keeping this conference "real".