Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tales from the cancer conference

I'm home now from my trip to Philly for the LBBC Conference and New York to visit Caitlin. It was a good, but long, but good, but emotionally exhausting, but good weekend. I'll go chronologically:

I started at the DTW airport. They now have those backscatter x-ray machines. They use seemingly random selection to determine who gets to go through it. As soon as I stepped into the security line I started panicking about how I was going to opt out of the scanner, because, obviously, it would be just my luck that I'd get picked to go through it. And I'm pretty sure that I've had enough radiation exposure without the scan. So, I start to freak out about how they might think that I've got something to hide if I decline the scan, and then I break out in hives because I'm so nervous. If I didn't look suspicious before, I do at this point.

Magically, I don't get chosen. I just get the regular old metal detector. (Which, by the way, has yet to pick up my port, which I'm pretty sure is full-out metal.)

Eventually I get to the hotel in Philly and meet up with my roommate, Carrie, who is awesome. It was super nice to finally meet her in person! Plus, the hotel was pretty swank!

Apparently, at breast cancer conferences, there is a whole lot of "you show me yours and I'll show you mine" because there are a whole lot of fake breasts. As one of the few who still has real breasts, I felt a little bit like a voyeur (at least, I can't really identify with the ins and outs of breast reconstruction) and also some anxieties that I made the wrong surgical choice really resurfaced. I will say, though, that there are some damn good surgeons out there!

I'll start off by saying I truly, truly appreciate the privilege of being able to attend the conference and to meet all of the fab people that I met. That said, the actual scheduled portions of the conference were a bit lackluster. I blame part of this on being hyper-aware, but a lot of the information seemed to be targeted to a less aware and (fair enough!) older audience.

Of the things I took away, I learned most of them from fellow attendees rather than presenters at the event (and maybe that's the point?!) These things include:

FLAXSEED! 2 tablespoons a day, to be exact
If you only take one vitamin, take D.
Don't let plastics touch your food (okay I knew this but now I'll really do it)
Parabens and Phthalates do not belong in your personal products (I knew this too, but, again, now I'll really do it)

So, I've come back and straightened out my act a little bit! Caitlin and I even went out, sorted through ever cosmetic product known to the human race, and picked out the three acceptable ones and bought them up. I now just need to also transition the rest of the things that touch my body (shampoo, lotion, etc etc etc).

Like I said before, it's nice to have a shared experience with a group of people and not have to explain the weird quirks or fears or what have you that come with that experience. At the same time, it can also be really tough to have such a shitty experience be in the forefront of your thoughts for an extended period of time. One of the topics of conference was how to deal with limited energy and limited time, post cancer diagnosis. Obviously, I struggle with this (I exhaust myself too often because I don't want to miss anything) and I don't think that the suggestions from the presenter (limit your activities, scale back at work, get more rest) were really all that helpful, at least for me. I don't really have the luxury to limit my activities, and I don't have the desire to cut out fun things I do in favor of rest, so I remain pretty stuck on this one. (And will continue to treat this problem with caffeine until it fails me)


  1. Thank you Katie for the updated post on the conference. Now will you and Caitlin please let us know about the brand names of the cosmetics that you two find with safe ingredients? Glad you had a nice time.

  2. I was so happy I got to meet you Katie! You are cute as a button and wonderful inside and out. xoxo

  3. Yes yes, tell us about the cosmetics!

    And plastic can't touch it at all? Like no Tupperware? I'm always careful not to microwave in plastic, even if it says microwave safe on it, but should I get rid of plastic wrap and just use aluminum foil and regular, glass bowls?

    I am le curious!