The next day at CancerCon—Sunday—I was more exhausted and in more pain than I had been since we arrived in Denver. It was obvious by the last day of my first-time at CancerCon as a leukemia survivor, I wasn’t going to feel any better before we flew back home—that was obvious now.
After we ate I felt a tad better, but as Klay and I made it up to the room where our first session was being held (yes, we booked some classes together), my energy already started to nosedive. This particular session was called “Cancer and Me: Where Do I Stand?” This class was specifically about how cancer impacts our lives and relationships and finding activities to positively change your relationship with cancer.
Klay and I arrived at an already full room. We sat at the very back, against the wall of the classroom.
It was packed.
All of the chairs were taken and even a few people stood by the door and listened.
Before we got to the class, Klay really encouraged and talked to me about sharing my story this time. He really wanted me to get something out of this weekend and knew my health was causing me to miss out on advantages that normally at jump at.
And so I did share, just before the class ended.
As I was talking and explaining how cancer has changed my life, all eyes were turned around looking at me sitting next to Klay at the back of the class.
Of course, I began crying when sharing the story of how we discovered I had leukemia (while I was pregnant), how terrible of a time I was having with GVHD and how bad my life is sucking after cancer.
People began asking questions and others were crying listening to me break down. It was very tough to do, but at then end of it all, I was happy I pushed myself to finally express how I feel toward cancer.
I told other cancer survivors, patients, and caregivers how amazing my caregiver—who was sitting right next to me—has been throughout this entire journey. I was listing just some of the countless things my husband does for me every day or has done for me throughout this entire roller coaster. And how I felt I would never be able to pay him back for what he has done and who has been for me.
Klay has been my person. The guy who has had my back since the beginning. The one that’s listened to all my frustrations, outbursts, dealt with my anxiety attacks, crazy times I’ve hidden under the table to get away from everyone, sat and bawled because someone would say something or not want to help us (when it comes to coming to the hospital, helping out with house, kids, etc).
This man has been there. I would have never made it this far without him. EVER. And I wanted him to know that and I want everyone to know that—we all need a support system; the more the merrier, but for me, I have a small support system with the best of the best at the helm of the group—my one and only—Klay.
After I shared my experiences, people wanted my blog information and wanted to know how to follow me, and people even came up to us, hugged us, and were grateful that I told them my cancer story.
This one guy went up to Klay, hugged him and said, “Thank you for taking care of her.”
We never got his name; we didn’t know him and he didn’t know us, but it was a moment I’ll never forget coming from a complete stranger.
After we headed to our last session—this one specifically a Couple’s Session—Klay told me how proud he was that I shared our story and how everyone’s attention was on me, really listening and hearing how I felt. He said everyone was crying and there wasn’t one dry eye in there. People were taken aback by my story.
In the end, that’s my proudest moment from CancerCon. It was a huge relief off my shoulders to feel like I was contributing to the young adult cancer community with my history with this disease.
My spirits were definitely lifted as we headed to our next session—for couples only. Ooh, la, la.
Walking into the room, the guys and girls were automatically split up into groups—kind of like a battle of the sexes sitch.
We were asked questions about the men (our men) and how they handle certain situations emotionally and list the things they do well and the things they do not so well.
It was fun, the men were cracking jokes, as well as the women, and we were enjoying ourselves. But we weren’t able to finish the assignment because we ran out of time—that’s the one thing I wish they’d do differently is to make the sessions a bit longer.
But something amazing happened in the class and we got to witness it! A guy stood up, just before the class ended, gave a speech to his girlfriend—and proposed! I couldn’t believe it. That was a special moment for sure and it was in our class of all the classes!
We wrapped up our final session with CancerCon—they handed out awards, said their goodbyes to us, informed us of the upcoming events over the next few years, and shared this awesome video of the weekend. It’s uplifting for sure! We didn’t make the cut, but you get to see how much fun it is—for the people healthy enough to enjoy it. It’s inspiring. Go watch it! Maybe next year, it will be better for me…
Klay and I spent the rest of the evening driving around Denver, going to different towns, exploring etc. We wanted to get our ‘fix’ of the mountains before we left since it’s been a long time since we’ve seen such gorgeous outdoors, but I was so tired and didn’t feel good, it was really hard for me to enjoy it.
I really just wanted to go back to the hotel and sleep.
Colorado is a really gorgeous state. I’ve flown into the airport there as a layover from Alaska but was never able to actually stay in Denver and explore. I just wish I would have had more time to do so!
Here are five pretty cool things that happened at CancerCon 2017 that deserve a brief mention:
- Call Bevier, a cancer survivor who was on America’s Got Talent, came to CancerCon and sang “Fight Song.” She was amazing. What a beautiful voice! She brought me to tears. Definitely a fan now!
- Stupid Cancer—the nonprofit that organizes this event—created an app for CancerCon attendees to connect with other conference goers, check your schedule (and upcoming classes and events), a “news feed” for people to share photos at the event with people who downloaded the app. It’s really cool and worked really well. If you met someone, you just found them on the app and connected with them instead of having to go through Facebook and search and search for that person. Such an awesome tool!
- Of course, we received tons of swag from exhibitors at the conference and from Stupid Cancer. It was great learning about some of these different organizations that are out there that I’ve never heard of.
- A Memory Board for those we’ve lost from cancer. It was crazy to see how many names were placed on that board.
- From free morning yoga classes to free makeovers from a glam squad (and of course the complimentary massages), there were so many amazing people who offered their time and services to conference attendees for free. There were even sections for attendees to sit and color, or craft and chat, and even a game room!
- Italia Ricci, the star of the TV show Chasing Life, (which is now cancelled)—a story about a young girl diagnosed with AML while she’s just started to really make her mark in her career—wanted to come to CancerCon, but was on set of her new show Designated Survivor, but sent a sweet video message to all of the attendees and even sent pizza!
Overall, this event is really spectacular. It truly is. I hope next year I will feel better and really be able to contribute to the community, meet more people and possibly make an impact somehow.
Until next year,