By Mary Brolley, Staff Writer
Nearly 10 years after her diagnosis with breast cancer, Mary Kay Dauria vividly remembers her 7-year-old daughter's reactions to her illness. When friends or acquaintances saw Dauria after the diagnosis, they'd hug her, sometimes crying, and say, "I am so sorry."
"My daughter was watching all that, and she got very worried," Dauria recalls. "She asked me, 'Mommy, are you going to die?'"
"So I began to tell those who expressed condolences, 'Don't take me off your Christmas card list. I'm not going anywhere,'" she laughs.
And, just like every year since her diagnosis, Dauria will attend Anderson Network's Living With, Through and Beyond Cancer patient and caregiver conference Sept. 10-12 at the Houston Marriott Westchase.
A member of and volunteer for Anderson Network, Dauria chaired the conference in 2008. After a 25-year corporate career, she now works with nonprofits managing fundraising events and other projects.
This year's conference theme, "The Strength Within," acknowledges the inner resources and grace cancer patients and survivors like Dauria find essential for their journey and recovery. It also offers participants the opportunity to learn more about the issues cancer survivors face, meet and share with others, take wellness classes and have fun.
Speakers include NBC co-anchor and breast cancer survivor Hoda Kotb, M. D. Anderson clinical professor and cancer survivor Martin Raber, M.D., and humorist Charles Petty, Ph.D. The popular medical panel on Saturday morning will be led by M. D. Anderson President John Mendelsohn, M.D.
The conference is open to all cancer patients, their families and caregivers, regardless of where treatment has been received.
A sampling of the nearly two dozen conference breakout sessions includes:
- Navigating the world of health insurance
- Dermatology issues
- Fear of recurrence
- Young adult survivors
- Proton therapy
- Caregiver issues
Thanks to M. D. Anderson, conference sponsors and individual donors, the cost of the conference is just $75, which includes all meals, activities and self-parking.
Registration is available online until Sept. 4.
For more information or to register, visit the Web site at www.mdanderson.org/patientconference or call 713-792-2553 (Houston) or 800-345-6324 (toll-free).
Anderson Network, an organization with support and educational services for patients/survivors, their families and caregivers, is a program of the Department of Volunteer Services.