I am writing this blog from 35,000 feet (although clearly it will not be posted until I land and arrive at my hotel). We are on our way to the 5th Annual Joining FORCEs Conference in Orlando, Florida where this year Dr. Gordon will be a speaker.
Three years ago I went to the 2nd Annual Joining FORCEs Conference. That experience taught me a lot about the spirit of FORCE. I had had my exchange surgery only a couple of weeks before that conference and when I set off for Florida I was allowed to lift nothing heavier than five pounds. Needless to say, my suitcase weighed a lot more. I had wanted to go to the conference but did not know how I could manage travelling alone so soon after surgery. Two wonderful women came to my rescue, Linee and Freddy, who made sure I was on the same flights and who made sure I never carried my own suitcase or anything heavier than my small purse the whole trip. Their generosity and can do attitude made the trip not only possible but also a true pleasure for me.
Attending my first FORCE conference was transformative for me, as it is for many. Before the conference, FORCE was for me an informative website with well-organized information to help with decision making and a message board where I could interact with other faceless women with BRCA mutations who were struggling as I was with integrating risk and decision-making into their lives.
At the Joining FORCEs Conference the faceless took on faces and the abstract organization took on life and personality. I met women from all over the country and indeed all over the world who had converged on Florida to learn as much as possible about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. And learn we did.
The Joining FORCEs Conference draws the top doctors and researchers in the field of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. One of the most special things about the conference is the ability to not only learn from these specialists at their lectures but also to talk to them face-to-face in the hallways and at the roundtable breakfast on the second morning. This year’s conference will again be a transformative experience and has drawn top experts from around the globe. We know many of you will be at the conference this year and we look forward to meeting you. Please find us in the hallways or at breakfast and introduce yourself.
I remember sitting in a session at that first conference and listening to Barbara Pfeiffer talk about how to become more involved with FORCE. At that point I was unsure what my role might be with this organization, but I knew that it was a cause that deserved my efforts because of the difference it made in my life and the difference it was making in the lives of so many others. More than three years later I still feel the same way. This organization make a difference in the lives of many and it continues to deserve to be nourished by those who know the difference it makes in those lives.