Here I am in Nashville at the first National Women’s Survivors Convention with almost 900 other women committed to healthy survivorship and paying it forward.
It has been said that it takes a village to fight the war on cancer but it doesn’t mean it is always about fighting. Celebration is also sometimes required, and at the Convention women celebrated their own definition of survivorship. Women cancer survivors are also caregivers, putting themselves last in terms of their own needs. But at this convention they’ve gotten together to share, connect and celebrate.
What’s cancer got to do with celebrating? These survivors know it’s not the adversity but what they do with it. That’s why I joined other ABCD (After Breast Cancer Diagnosis) mentors on a bus trip to Nashville…we are here together to learn and share. Here are my observations so far:
We are empowering ourselves through learning at scientific sessions. There has been lots of networking and discovering new resources for support and building a community among all women survivors. Whether it was a group of women in their pajamas swaying and singing to the Little River Band’s “Reminiscing” (by the way they sound even better than ever) or listening to Scott Hamilton inspire by asking, “What do you do when you fall down…you get up!” (This is what cancer and ice skating have in common.)
Ultimately, women’s survivorship involves choices: women who chose to launch the national women’s survivor movement and women who chose to take time from their busy lives to travel to Nashville to actually take care of themselves. These women are now choosing to focus their strength on paying it foward.
Amalia Rigoni is a 12-year survivor of breast cancer, a Department of Defense consumer advocate, former Y-ME Hotline supervisor & presenter and now ABCD: After Breast Cancer Diagnosis Mentor (Helpline & Match). She is reporting from the National Women’s Survivors Convention in Nashville this weekend.