ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Part II Let the FORCE be with you. It could save your life.

Updated on August 25, 2011
Source

Behind the scenes at a FORCE conference.

What is FORCE?

FORCE stands for Facing Our Risk Cancer Empowered, www.facingourrisk.org. FORCE is the only national nonprofit organization devoted to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. FORCE provides amazing support through message boards, local chapters and programs like SOS (Support our Sisters). The website is a great tool for research, education and support specific to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

Attending the conference: Day 1

My mother, who loves to do research, found FORCE online after I found out I had BRCA1. We both attended the conference in 2010. Today, the conference attracts hundreds of women from all over the country and many from other countries as well, all who have the BRCA mutation.

On the first day of the conference you are given a schedule of the days of lectures and events, a tote bag with filled with pamphlets and brochures about BRCA, research and goodies like pens.  When you enter the main conference hall, there are piles of Mardi Gras beads on tables.  Get the party started! This was such a fabulous idea to help connect and identify people by their status. Each color necklace identifies whether you are BRCA1 or BRCA2, a previvor, a survivor or a support person.

The conference typically begins on a Friday night with fun activities at the hotel. Saturday and Sunday are filled with lectures, discussion groups, films and even yoga classes. Check out the FORCE website to see the schedule of events from this year’s conference. I guarantee you will be impressed. You can pick and choose what is best suited for you. The meals are great. In between sessions, there are vendors set up in a room. Many are doctors telling you about their practice and the procedure that they use. This was very informative. I highly recommend walking around and asking questions and collecting brochures and information.  There are also companies like those that sell implants, so you can actually see and touch them. There are organizations present that support previvors and cancer survivors.

Show and Tell

On the first day of the conference, my mom and I went to use the ladies room. When I came out, I noticed my mom talking to a woman in line and she was touching her breasts. I was a little caught off guard, as many people were standing around. The woman in line became my first dear friend at the conference. She told me about her surgery, she had a mastectomy and reconstruction. She told me, “I can show you my breasts later.” “Come to the show and tell tonight, “she said. I had heard about the show and tell and was skeptical on whether or not I wanted to attend. I knew that women showed you their breasts after mastectomy and reconstruction, and at the time, I didn’t know if I was mentally prepared to see that. Surprisingly, it was an eye opening and bonding experience.

The show and tell took place in a two story suite. On the first floor were tables set up with wine and cheese and chocolate. Women were standing around chatting and everyone was very friendly. A surgeon sat in the back of the room available to answer questions about the type of procedure he specializes in. I learned at the conference that there are many different types of reconstruction. Upstairs, women stood around topless to show off their reconstruction. It was a bit awkward at first but all of the women seemed so at ease that I soon became at ease as well.

I was amazed at how fabulous their breasts looked. I remember commenting to one woman who had the one step procedure, which replaces your breast tissue with implants in one operation, “You had a mastectomy and reconstruction?” She said that she liked her breasts better now than before. This is a comment I heard from many women. Don’t get me wrong, we all agreed that we would rather not have the mutation or the surgery. Many of the women offered to let me feel their breasts. They really looked and felt natural. Besides implants, there are other types of reconstruction that utilize your own body fat. By the end of the evening, I was so glad that I attended the show and tell.

Day 2: Dating

Day 2 is also filled with lectures and discussions. As a single woman, a great discussion that I attended was on dating. How do you decide to tell a date you have the mutation or that you have had a mastectomy and reconstruction or that you no longer have ovaries? The discussion was an open forum and we all shared our thought and ideas. This was another way to meet others like you in similar situations. Most of us agreed that this would be something that we would not share when we first met someone, but with someone we had gained trust and begun a relationship with.

One on one time

If you want to spend face to face time with doctors, attend the” ask the experts” round table. There are tables set up and numbered. You are provided with a list of who is seated at each table. This is a great way to spend time with specific doctors and learn more about the type of procedure they specialize in. There are also researchers that are available to answer questions. This time was very valuable to learn more about the different procedures from the doctors themselves. I also learned about a great book called “The Breast Reconstruction Guidebook” by Kathy Steligo, which discusses the different types of reconstruction options. I really was amazed at how advanced the reconstruction is today.

What I gained

Besides a vast amount of knowledge that I took away from the conference about statistics, procedures, up and coming research and the support that FORCE provides, I learned and gained a lot from the other women that I met. Many had been where I was and had a mastectomy and reconstruction, as well as an oophorectomy (removal of their ovaries).  From these women I received firsthand accounts of their experiences and a great deal of empathy.  I made lifelong friendships with these women that I will cherish forever.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      smileman 

      6 years ago

      this is as alllllllways a beautiful combination of u'r great desire 2 help anyone u can and abundant talent....big hugs and love...............drew

    • profile image

      pj h 

      6 years ago

      really interesting stuff. the show and tell concept is a good one. i'm sure it helps many women out.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)