Last week I attended the premier conference for young adults with cancer – the OMG! Cancer Summit by Stupidcancer.org. It was truly a transformative experience in many ways. If you’re a young adult with cancer and were deciding whether or not to attend, my advice to you would be to go.
When I first booked my tickets I was going alone so there was part of me that was concerned I wouldn’t have anyone to hang out with. I had been talking to several of the girls who were also going over facebook and we decided to all hang out. I met even more friends there so never had to worry about being alone. Together we dined, clubbed, and supported one another during the week.
The conference started off with a tour of Las Vegas…
Our tour guide, Judy, has lived in Las Vegas for close to 50 years and was very knowledgeable about the history and culture of this new city. Her husband worked for the casino’s at Bally’s and said Las Vegas had been good to them. She first took us to the Las Vegas sign where Elvis was taking photos with people. I had always wondered where this sign was as I never saw it the last time I visited Vegas. Next we drove down the strip making stops at the Bellagio, Fremont St, and went to the top of the Stratosphere. The view was absolutely stunning up there and one of our OMG’ers actually jumped off the top of the stratosphere on their Insanity ride. It’s a free fall in a harness basically that starts at the 108th Fl. I saw some other people jump off and it looked really intimidating. But Chris did it embodying that “Get Busy living” spirit!
Later that day we had the OMG pool party. The we got to use the back pool of the Palms and their private suites by the pool. The weather was amazing that day : in the high 70’s/low 80’s with a breeze to cool you down. They had a professional photographer taking photos while people relaxed poolside. They had hors d’oeuvres like chips and guac and virgin strawberry margaritas. What I mostly enjoyed was getting the opportunity to relax with my girls.
The next morning I stumbled out of bed at 7AM to do a fun run 5k. Considering I had been out at a free O.A.R concert that OMG got us tickets to and then partying at Tao Beach at the Venetian I was pretty tired. But we got these really nifty pullovers provided by Ulman Cancer fund :
In case you guys don’t know who the Ulman fund is, they provide scholarships to school for cancer survivors. I fully intend to apply next year as I missed the deadline this year.
One of my favorite parts of the entire summit was getting my hair and make-up done by the Survivor Glam Squad. So many female cancer patients suffer from self esteem issues as a result of their cancers. The good news is that the SGS is here to help! They did my make-up and hair so I looked super sultry. Check out the after below…
They made me feel really beautiful. I was all done up for the First Descents film party where they screened independent shorts made about outdoor adventure sports. Later that night we went out to Ghostbar which is on the 55th Fl and partied the night away. One of the neat things about Ghostbar is the see through floor. Being the fearless girl that I am, you know I was standing, dancing and even jumping on it. It freaked a lot of people out!
Day 4 brought the breakout sessions which are basically classes. The ones I chose all reflected my decision to go into advocacy. I attended one on advocacy burnout, forging partnerships with cancer centers and my personal favorite Tambre Leighn’s “Life After OMG” class. She is a cancer survivorship coach (Who knew there was such a thing??) and she spoke to us about the importance of having a survivorship plan. No one had ever spoken to me about one before so it was really nice to hear. She is a lovely woman with an amazing story and I advise all of you to check her out here.
I was also nominated for a Get Busy Living award which was very exciting. I did not win, but that’s ok – the prize went to a young lady who definitely deserved it. But check out my nifty consolation award…
Here are some photos of me at the ceremony…
Yup, that’s me with Matthew Zachary – founder of StupidCancer.org and AYA cancer survivor. At the closing ceremonies one thing he said really stuck with me : that each individual can make a difference. Since I’ve come back from OMG I’ve really been inspired to take action on making the world a better place for AYA cancer survivors. I’ve partially built a board of directors for cancer babes, started working on a website, started a facebook page that within 24 hours had over 100 likes and I’ve got my DBA certificate for Cancer Babes so I can open a bank account and start fundraising for the money to pay the attorneys to file the 501(c)3 paperwork.
All in all, it’s been a very good week.