Recap of Cancer Con 2017

Stupid Cancer held its annual Cancer Con, April 27-30 in Denver. The conference brought 650 AYA patients, survivors, caregivers, advocates and health professionals together. Rachel, our Education & Outreach Coordinator, attended the conference and presented, Getting Informed About Long-Term Follow-Up Care, as a break out session.

A major theme of this year’s conference was practicing self-care, and being okay with who and where you are at this moment in your cancer journey. Julie Larson, LCSW, told conference attendees at the start of the weekend that it was okay to focus on being a cancer survivor and encouraged exploring, reimagining, and forgiving aspects that come along with being a survivor.

Jean Rowe, LCSW, OSW-C, CJT, shared exercises on how to practice self-care during her Journal Writing break out session:  1) Start with a word (contentment, power, inspiration or acceptance), then see where your pen takes you; 2) Recall a specific (summer) memory and describe smells, sights, tastes, feelings; 3) If you are feeling a strong emotion (anger, guilt) characterize it. What does anger look like? Is it male or female? Describe that feeling like you would a person. Try to write for 3-5 minutes at a time.

At the closing session, Sage Bolte, PhD, LCSW, OSW-C, CST, spoke about being your authentic self. She noted that anyone who has been touched by cancer knows suffering and emphasized the importance of self-compassion. Self-compassion is a skill that can be developed through methods such as looking at yourself in the mirror every day and naming one thing you will do to show yourself kindness and then not feeling guilty if you don’t actually accomplish that task.

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