Ovarian Cancer National Conference

July 18, 2017

 What is it?  

Where is it?

Who is there?  

Will I learn anything?  

Is it worth it?

 

All great questions and I will answer them in this post for you. But I can only share my experience.  If you really want to see what it's like, you must go and see for yourself.

 

Let's start at the beginning... 

 

My first conference was six years ago.  It was in Washington, D.C. The last time I was in Washington was when I was a kid.  At this particular conference, there was an opportunity to sight see with other conference attendees to all the major sights: the Jefferson Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial, the Arlington Cemetery and so on.  It was a great way to see the sites and the conference too and so we added that on to our experience.  

 

I didn't want to experience this alone, so I grabbed my mother in law; we hopped in the car and drove a little over 6 hours to Washington, D.C.  I didn't know what to expect. There was an agenda posted ahead of time so I had an idea of the daily schedule but beyond that, I was clueless. 

 

We arrived at the hotel, the Hyatt Regency.  The gentleman who helped us with our bags was very polite and I noticed he was wearing a teal ribbon pin.  WOW! We entered the hotel, rode down the escalator into the lobby.  At the front desk, we were greeted by the front desk receptionist. I noticed another teal ribbon pin on her lapel.  I asked if she knew what the pin meant....and she said, YES...Ovarian Cancer!! I start looking around and would you believe that EVERY employee was wearing a TEAL ribbon lapel pin. This is just unheard of.  Hardly anyone knew what teal meant in my city and now, everyone is wearing a teal ribbon lapel pin. My heart smiled!

 

The first night, there is usually some type of a reception. That night, I went to the newcomers reception.  It was cool.  Saw a lot of people but I am usually a little stand off'ish in new settings.  So I didn't mingle too much but I smiled a lot.

 

The next morning was breakfast and then the conference followed. In order to get to the conference, you have to ride 2 different escalators down. Coming down the second is when you enter the conference area. Y'all, NOTHING could have prepared me for this!  A Sea Of Teal!

 

People were dressed in teal from head to toe. There were vendor booths decorated in teal. At that moment, I could've sworn that the walls were painted teal (but they weren't). I felt overjoyed. Overwhelmed. My heart was truly happy.

 

I had found my tribe!

 

One of the first sessions you go to, they ask you to stand up year by year as to how far out you are from your {k}ancer diagnosis...this is pretty powerful!  Hope reigns throughout the room.  After this, I went to session after session.  I heard about MY {k}ancer. I learned things pertinent to MY treatment and life after {k}ancer. 

 

And then, there is always a celebration! My first year, all I kept hearing was that "we had a rock band".  I just thought, ok cool...there is a rock band playing at the celebration.  But I was then told that the rock band was formed by 5 gynecologic {k}ancer doctors and they were going to play for US!  They are called, N.E.D. (short for, No Evidence of Disease).  Check them out here:  http://www.nedtheband.com

 

When the conference is in D.C., attendees have the opportunity to march on Capitol Hill and meet with your Senators and Congressmen after the conference is over.  I wasn't quite ready for that my first year so I did not partake in that.  

 

 In Summary and a few other questions answered...

 

 

Since the first conference six years ago, I have thoroughly enjoyed going from year to year.  It is great to meet different people you may have met virtually or that you follow online. It is cool to connect with so many teal sisters.  Love meeting up with friends:).  Love learning about what is new...or why there appears to be nothing new.  I have since marched on Capitol Hill and find the experience empowering! You really feel like you are using your voice to make a difference with something that is truly personal to you.

 

Answers to questions you may...or may not....have had:

  • It can be overwhelming!!!!!  I have heard that from more than one person...but in a good way! Overwhelming because there is SO MUCH TEAL! So many survivors! It is just ...WOW!

  • The conference is usually the weekend after the 4th of July. 

  • There are people there from all over the United States.  And at times, people travel from other countries.

  • Men come too.

  • The conference moves every other year.  In 2018, it will be in Washington, D.C. but will move to Seattle, Washington in 2019 and then back to D.C. in 2020. The location for 2021 will be announced at the DC Conference in 2020.

  • Transportation. You can try to save money by using the Metro or Subway. But if that is scary or confusing to you, then use the app, UBER. In some places, there are airport shuttles. There are also taxi's.  Choose whatever works best for you and your comfort level. But research the cost ahead of time so you are prepared. If you drive, make sure you research the cost to park your car overnight.

  • The hotels are usually really pricey. You absolutely can stay at another hotel that is more affordable however, I will say that it is easier being in the same hotel.  Easier to get up and go to the conference or easier to sit out if you want; resting in your room.  It is easier to make friends and meet up with them later. Easier to ask someone as you walk by to go grab a bite to eat with you simply because they are wearing teal. You must make the call on what works best for you.

  • What to pack:  everything you own that is Teal.  And when you think you have enough, throw in one more thing.  There is also a Wear your Best Teal Costume Contest.

  • Not all conferences have NED, the band.  Most of the time it is a DJ.

  • There are scholarships available. Some scholarships cover travel, lodging and the conference. Follow the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance on social media for up to date info regarding all their programs, but also the conference. 

  • As with anything, you will only get out of it what you put into it!!  Attend the sessions! Sit at tables where you don't know anyone and just start talking! 

Finally...

 

Here are some pictures from my conference experiences throughout the years. I have made some great friends.  I hope to see you at one!!

 

 

 

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