'Community of Hope'

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By Sarah Oates

Four years ago, I'd just completed my first round of chemo for the treatment of invasive ductal carcinoma, one of the most common forms of breast cancer.

When I remember the summer of 2007, I think about navigating -- the halls of MD Anderson, my feelings, the changes brought about by my illness.

I didn't attend Anderson Network's Cancer Survivorship Conference that year. Too busy just dealing, you know?

But I did make it the next year, and now it's an annual pleasure. There was a lot to absorb at that first conference, but I'll never forget how good it felt to be with and talk to others who had navigated a similar path.

That sense of community refreshed my hope.

Now I'm eager to get to the conference to see old friends and meet new ones. If you asked me what I enjoy most about the conference, I really don't think I could choose one aspect of it over another.

The breakout sessions, keynote speakers, access to medical expertise and opportunity to visit with others in "the club" leave me feeling energized and renewed.

If you haven't attended a Cancer Survivorship Conference, I promise you'll get something out of it-- perhaps a new friend or information that helps you navigate your own experience with cancer.

As for me, I'm looking forward to hearing the stories of former Major League Baseball pitcher Dave Dravecky, chef Hans Rueffert, and mountain climber Sean Swarner, all cancer survivors.

And I'm looking forward to seeing friends. I hope to see you there.

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The Cancer Survivorship Conference: Why I Go, What I've Learned

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