Throughout my scientific career, a yearly event is the Annual Conference. All professional societies gather their members once per year to network, share information and, frankly, to make money. (It’s a bit of a secret that societies use these events to help sustain their other activities.) Anyway, annual conferences happen in the breast cancer world too. It’s an important mechanism to bring people together and from the science side, share the latest breakthroughs in treatment and cancer understanding.
Each December in San Antonio is the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium – the largest breast cancer-focused conference in the world. There is also the MBC Research Conference, American Society of Clinical Oncology, European Society for Medical Oncology Congress, International Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer Symposium, and may others. (Note: there is really no difference between a symposium and a conference.)
The organization Living Beyond Breast Cancer organizes the Conference on Metastatic Breast Cancer. The focus is bringing together patients living with MBC to share information and educate about how best to take care of ourselves.
I attended the conference virtually in 2020 and was very excited to plan and attend in person this year. The plan was to travel to Philadelphia with a local MBC friend to meet up with hundreds of other women (and men) who are navigating the same ridiculous disease that I am.
There were sessions and talks devoted to mainly to caring for yourself, as well as new treatments and guidance on how to cope with grief.
I was really looking forward to being around so many others who can relate to what I’m going through. I’m heartbroken that we have an annual conference for this. I’m also sad that the vast majority of the 45,000 people in the U.S. who have MBC cannot attend.
It turns out I was not able to attend in person. I did join a few sessions virtually and connected with some women who I hopefully will stay in touch with.
I was crushed not to go. I made the decision at the last moment because I was really hoping to attend and was desperately hoping my pain would go away or at least be manageable.
This past month has been a rough one. I had a bad fall early in April and long story short, it seems to have aggravated part of my spine that was already compromised.
I’ve spent the past few weeks trying to get pain under control and making lots and lots of phone calls to a number of doctors to figure out what is going on.
We now think that the L4 of my spine (lower back, lumbar region) was hurt in the fall and it’s putting pressure on my nerves. I already had a burst fracture of my L4 and now there is likely a compression fracture as well.
Nerves emanate out of the spine and travel to different parts of our bodies, the lower back impacts the legs. The pain I’m having can be traced back to the L4 of my spine.
The current plan is to (1) keep my pain levels manageable (2) get a kyphoplasty procedure done on my L4.
I’ve been laying low for weeks now. Not much more than resting and sleeping and trying to work as I can. The pain meds make me very groggy so it’s been challenging to say the least.
While all that is not very exciting, we wrapped up April with multiple dance competitions for Maddy. We are all thrilled for her finishing in first place with both her solo for her age group and first place for her duo.
While Maddy was spending countless hours at the studio, Evelyn was wrapping up her freshman year and we got her moved out of her dorm and on a plane to Europe within 24 hours. She will spend some time in England with her boyfriend and study for 8 weeks in Rome, after which she’ll head back to England for a few more weeks.
I was fortunate to spend a very important afternoon with a dear life-long friend who happened to be in Denver for work. The time was too short, I’m grateful we had those hours nonetheless.
Life marches on, both the good and the bad. The cat is appreciating my new found sedentariness. I’ve not been able to go on walks so I would appreciate photos texted of whatever it is you might be doing outside! Get some fresh air and movement for me!