May 01, 2014

There and back again

In a small homage to JRR Tolkien, last week I went "there and back again" -- to Philadelphia for a conference on metastatic breast cancer and a short family visit. I had a chance to spend some real quality time with my mother, enjoyed a shorter visit with my sister and brother-in-law, and made a new friend at the conference.

D offered to ship my conference notes back to Seattle so that I wouldn't have to carry them on the plane. I was delighted to take him up on that offer, even though Alaska Airlines comped one of my bags into the baggage area when I arrived at the airport.

The conference, sponsored by Living Beyond Breast Cancer, was the usual mix typical of these events. Some speakers were highly technical and medical in their comments; others were more accessible (I suspect) to the average attendee. I came away with some good info, none of which I remember now, but will blog about when my box of stuff arrives.

I was surprised to see a small but significant number of women with lymphedema, maybe 20 out of 300 or so. When I travel by air I have to bandage my affected arm, but I have never seen another woman wrapped on an airplane. However, in Cancer Land, there are always a few women with bandaged fingers or toes, arms or legs. I was surprised that LBBC didn't offer a session on lymphedema.

I attended a break out session on writing, which I found very interesting, although the speaker took an hour to get to his point and "prompt" us in a five minute writing exercise. We chose from writing about a piece of music that you find especially important; going back in time to talk with your ten year old self and explain what the future holds; or describe that your cancer looks like and what you would say to it. After we wrote, some people volunteered to share their pieces (I of course volunteered first). I wrote about music and song bringing joy into my life, and after I read, they asked me to sing. I gave them a few lines of Begala E Vena, a Bulgarian song in which I get to yip. I think they liked it. I'll post this bit of writing when the box arrives.

More later, as always.


  1. Jill, you didn't happen to be the woman I spoke with briefly on the bridge in Conshohoken that was trying to get to the train on time? On that beautiful Saturday evening? I wish I would have known you were going - I so enjoy your blog and would have loved to have met you.

    1. Hi Laura, No, I wasn't on the bridge with you but I was at the conference. I wish we had the chance to meet too. There was limited opportunity to meet everyone in a networking session. Maybe they should have had a speed dating style activity?

  2. I actually thought of that Sunday morning; I would have loved to have met people who may live near me. Although you probably wouldn't have met too many except the speakers :) Keep writing great stuff and stay healthy!

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I dance with cancer. Oy!