C4YW First Timer

My dad, Jack.

I was asked to write a blog about my attendance at the Conference For Young Women being offered by the Living Beyond Breast Cancer and Young Survival Coalition Groups in Orlando, Florida in February.  This is what I wrote BEFORE I went.  Stay tuned for the follow-up.

A First Timer:  Why I’m Going to Orlando

Cancer scares me.  It probably scares you, too.  We don’t know why it came when it came (in my case at 33), and whether it will ever come back.  I’ve spent 11 years trying to distance myself from this ugly word.  Force it from my consciousness.  Expel it from my daily routine.  Impossible at first, obviously, and ridiculously close for too many years, the sting of the connection between cancer and me has dissolved into the shadows.

So why in the world have I voluntarily plopped myself back into the froth?  Because now that it doesn’t haunt me, I’m compelled to help others wade through it with some grace, dignity and peace of mind.  How?

First, I’ve written and self-published on my own dime a children’s book explaining cancer of a loved one to young kids called Nowhere Hair.  I wrote it because I wanted to offer young women a book that helps them find the words to explain their baldness to their kids.  I wrote it to say, “You’re still hip, strong, brave, beautiful. You’re still an amazing mother.  And oh yeah, you’re bald.”  I wrote it to say to kids, “You’re confused.  Scared.  You have questions.  But yeah, you’re still a kid who will appreciate if cancer can be approached in an honest, yet whimsical way.”  I’ve been told this little book does the heavy lifting without being heavy.  Kelly Corrigan, New York Times bestselling author of The Middle Place and Lift, who I share both a diagnosis, surgeon, and life outlook with, has also said that my words “put it all in the proper perspective.  A wonderful tool for families.”

So second, armed with this kind of validation, I’ve signed up for C4YW.  I’m anxious to meet those women brave enough to face their cancer head on and see if I can help them find the right words that are so elusive when you are in the midst of it all.  Perhaps they’ll see an 11-year survivor turning an ugly diagnosis into something beautiful.  Perhaps I’ll find inspiration from their stories.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m a bit wobbly about how this will feel.  After all, C4YW is three days of being surrounded by all things breast cancer, including young women (and perhaps some men?) who have been handed a pretty heavy load.  Will they be hopeful?  Angry?  Will all this talk of cancer feel overwhelming or empowering?  Will cancer descend upon my shoulders and wrap around me again?

I don’t know.  I’ve never been to something like this.  I’ll just have to see.  (And honestly, this conference grows in attendance every year, so I’m putting my money on the joyful/hopeful outcome.)  I plan on sharing with you when it’s over.

While I’ll be there with my author hat on, I’m also attending as a young survivor.  I can’t wait to hear Sandra Steinberger’s talk: The Case for a Greener World: Breast Cancer and the Environment.  I live in Marin County, California, which happens to be the breast cancer epicenter of the world.   You better believe I’ve been paying attention to how I live and what I put around and on this body of mine.  She promises to teach me how to “protect myself from the many harmful chemical exposures plaguing our environment today.”  Well, right on sister.  I’m all ears.

Of course, I’m also interested in hearing Dr. Shenin Sachedina’s talk, “The ABC’s of Talking to Your Child about Breast Cancer.”  Perhaps I can glean some new information, or offer some feedback from the women who have written to me.  This topic is my passion.  And like me, Dr. Sachedina’s written a children’s book to help explain the seemingly unexplainable, and there is nothing so wonderful as to meet a kindred soul.

So here’s to jumping into the great unknown.  Along with more than 800 other young women with cancer and the people who love them and dedicate their professional lives to care for them and cure them, I will be in Orlando with my arms open wide.

Sue Glader is a writer, mother and breast cancer survivor living in Mill Valley, California.  Her book, Nowhere Hair, is available at her website www.NowhereHair.com and through Amazon.   Her blog, Poking Around Life, can be found at www.SueGlader.wordpress.com.  Join Nowhere Hair’s Beautifully Bald Initiative at www.facebook.com/NowhereHair.

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7 Comments

Filed under Beautiful things

7 responses to “C4YW First Timer

  1. Sue, I’ve exhibited at the conference for the last 5 years and had to miss last weekend conference. I find the energy at this conference is unbelievable and am inspired with the courage that these young survivors have in facing their illness. I hope you had a great experience and I look forward to seeing you in 2012!

  2. Sue, I’m so glad you ventured out to the conference! This was my second year attending, and my first year as an exhibitor (for Pink Kitchen). Hope to see you in 2012!

  3. Lou Ann Glader

    Hi Sue, This may be a duplicate – not sure.
    Since we haven’t had time to talk about this experience in person, I enjoyed reading your pre conference thoughts and look forward to reading about your feelings post conference. Good for you to continue to put yourself out there, sharing your feelings and listening and learning from others.

    Love you,
    Lou Ann

  4. Chris Carrico

    We are leaving in the morning for Bequia…can’t wait to read more when we return! You are so inspirational….
    All ‘de best,
    Chris

  5. Sue,
    It was so great to meet you at the conference! I’ve just checked out your blog and am anxious to hear your thoughts re: c4YW now that you’ve had some time to process the experience. I’ve also read your book that I bought and love it! Great job! You go, girl! As a fellow advocate and empowerer of women to embrace their inner beauty and inner strength while grappling with the BC beast, I love what you’ve done! I’ve posted my own thoughts on my website if you are interested… http://www.suzysurvivor.com. Look forward to staying in touch with you! Warmly,
    Alden

    • Just wrote it up and passed it on to LBBC. I’ll post it here after they post it there. Alden, the feeling is mutual. Love how you’ve turned your situation into something so powerful and positive. sue

  6. I read this book about explaining cancer to children in the middle of a rather hectic period during the C4YW conference last month with lots of distractions and noises around me, but all of that became silent as I turned the pages. I was thinking of my own children and the memories of reading cute and clever stories to them to teach, inspire and entertain. But this one was different. I started to cry. I remembered by own sister Angelle, fighting cancer while raising three young children and wondering how it was for my niece and nephews to see their mother without hair. Maybe, my surroundings had elevated my emotions. I had heard so many stories of young women with children fighting breast cancer. Maybe it was staring me in the face with my bald sister Danielle beside me. Or maybe, it was my profound gratitude for not having to read this book to my own daughters. I wanted to purchase a copy for my granddaughters but thought they don’t need this book. Truthfully, I wanted to protect them from the reality of the side affects of cancer. I regret that decision. This book was powerful as was the author Sue Glader. I endeavor to buy this beautiful story written by a beautiful woman to teach, inspire and comfort children of cancer survivors and to help to understand the incomprehensible at any age.

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