As I sit in the Nashville airport, I’m thinking back on the highlights of the National Women’s Survivors Convention. The one word that keeps flashing in my mind is “opportunity.” The women attending the conference, myself included, were given an opportunity to live past cancer. Many do not have that opportunity. It’s not because they didn’t “fight” or “beat cancer” or because they are somehow weaker in any way. In my opinion, much of it is sheer luck; I believe that I fall into that category. I happened to do a breast exam that October morning, an activity that I had rarely (if ever) done before. My cancer was still Stage I. Many are not so lucky, and I think about that every single day. My own grandmother wasn’t that lucky, and as a result, I never had the opportunity to meet her.
That’s not to say that the journey to this conference was easy. There were many women in attendance who were still in active treatment. There were wigs and bald heads. There was the exhausted gait that comes with enduring chemotherapy. But there were so many smiles. So many nods acknowledging, “I’ve been there. I know what you are going through. It will get better.” The comfort that these interactions provided for me is priceless. We are part of an unfortunate club – a club no one would choose to join – but we are here.
As I sat at the Consano booth chatting, commiserating and taking in this astounding group of women, a group who has endured so much, my passion was fueled. I have an opportunity here. Not only can I try to help those women who are walking my path now, I can do something to make things better for those women who have yet to come. I can do something for my daughters. I will not let this opportunity pass.