Is anyone else incredibly annoyed by StupidCancer's choice of keynote speaker for CancerCon?

I have a major bone to pick with stupidcancer right now.

They have a convention that is supposed to be for young adults with cancer. I really would have loved to attend but I'm busy getting chemo. I thought, well, I'll just go next year! But I think I won't. 

Who do they have as the main "Special Guest"? A cancer research doctor? No. A survivor? No. Someone who is incredibly active in advocating for young adults with cancer? Of course not. How about an oncology nurse? No? Ok.

Let's make the keynote speaker a woman who plays a character who has a cancer on an insipid tv show. A woman who has no experience as a survivor, caretaker, or professional. A woman who plays a cancer patient that isn't even depicted accurately. Yeah maybe she "talked to survivors" or "talked to doctors and nurses" but what does this woman bring to the table for a group of young adults actually going through treatment? Quite honestly, it's offensive.

I'm incredibly disappointed that an organization that is supposed to be advocating for young adults with cancer is glossing over all the important aspects of being a young adult with cancer in order to pander to some kind of pop culture or media attention. Once again, it's offensive.


  • 9 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Thanks, Kenny. 

    It's nice to hear that someone acknowledges my feelings. I actually speak for a lot of my survivor friends near me when I address this. I just find it slightly problematic.
  • I hate to say it, but I have to disagree with you. I am super excited to hear Italia Ricci speak and possible meet her face to face. I love watching the show each week. Yeah, some of it may be inaccurate to what a true cancer patient goes through, but it is tv after all. They have to make a good show.

    Don't get me wrong, I was extremely upset with April for the first few episodes...she drove me crazy not telling her family, going to appointments alone, and continuing to work so much. I wanted to shake her and tell her to tell her family and take a break from work because her health is way more important than writing a newspaper story. But every person is different and has different priorities and handles the word Cancer differently. For me, my parents were the first people I told (and it was within a few hours of learning I had cancer), they came to every single appointment with me, and I took time off work immediately. Not only was my physical health my main concern, but so was my mental health. I was in no shape to think about work.

    But once April told her family and took a break from work, I felt I could relate to her a lot more and I started to really feel for her. And her ongoing struggles with boys and friendships are very identifiable for me. I think everyone can find something to relate to with April, whether it is treatment or relationships or work.

    So I feel Italia Ricci is a very relatable and knowledgeable member of the young adult cancer club. She doesn't need a diagnosis to join because of all the great advocacy work she is doing alongside her acting role as April.

    I can't wait to attend CancerCon!! It's my first Stupid Cancer event. I'm literally counting down the days to meeting new awesome friends, hanging with people who understand, gaining that feeling of inclusion, learning new things about all sorts of cancer topics, building lasting relationships, and just enjoying myself. It will be powerful. I am ready.

  • MelindaMelinda Community Member
    edited February 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down

    I'm not annoyed with Stupid Cancer's choice of closing keynote speaker, nor do I find it offensive. Italia Ricci is an advocate for young adults with cancer. She does a lot more than just play a survivor on tv. She works not only with Stupid Cancer, but with Stand Up To Cancer. She was taking calls during their national telethon in the fall and has been very active on social media with their Kiss Cancer Goodbye campaign. 

    Stupid Cancer has had doctors, survivors, and researchers as keynote speakers before. And there will be doctors, survivors, and researchers speaking this year too; including Dan Shapiro and Ethan Zahn.

  • I don't really care at all that she is speaking. In fact, I think it's good publicity. But to make her the main person to talk to a group of survivors? She's an advocate, sure. But there's not much beyond that. 

    There are plenty of people who are advocates and who take calls during telethons and are active on social media. Why is she the main event and not one of them? Because she's a "celebrity". What does she have to say that we don't already know as survivors?

    I'm not saying she shouldn't be there. I'm just saying that it's absurd that she's the closing keynote speaker. There are more important people - doctors, survivors, people who actually RUN advocacy groups who have much more of an impact. Italia Ricci will never be able to speak for a survivor. She is not our voice. She is not my voice.

    It just makes me feel all sorts of uncomfortable.
  • I'd like to be a survivor, but right now, all I can claim is that I'm a fighter. Won't be going to the event this year either.
  •  You're a survivor from the day you get diagnosed!  I won't be going either for financial reasons and I just started a new job.  I would love to hear from all of the speakers and meet more young survivors. There aren't really any other young adults with cancer where I'm from and very few support groups especially for young adults.  Though the show isn't completely accurate, it's really the closest I've seen on television.  I think all of our experiences are so different that what's accurate for you won't be for me and vise versa.  Some of the experiences they portray on the show made me laugh out loud because they were exactly like ones I have had. Others not so much.  I hope everyone that goes to the convention has a great time and I can go sometime!!

  • I am not annoyed by the choice of Italia Ricci as the closing keynote speaker at CancerCon. Although she's not a survivor, she has become quite a vocal advocate for the young adult cancer community since playing April on Chasing Life. I have heard people are disappointed with the way she portrays a cancer patient (i.e. not telling anyone right away), but everyone handles their diagnosis differently. I didn't tell people immediately either. Like the poster above me stated, "what's accurate for you won't be accurate for me." 
    I appreciate that she has become an advocate for young adults with cancer, we need our voice heard, and let's face it, celebrities get causes noticed. I am glad she has chosen to support Stupid Cancer and SU2C. 
    If she was the only speaker, I would probably have been offended, however, there are 2 other keynote speakers who are survivors. And the majority of speakers at the conference are in the oncology field, caregivers, or survivors. 
    Having attended three Stupid Cancer conferences, I can assure you they do not gloss over the important aspects of being a young adult with cancer. The conferences were life changing for me, and I am glad I found Stupid Cancer and have been able to attend their annual summits. I hope you change your mind and attend next year. 
  • Hi kindnessabound! I can definitely see where you're coming from in your post. I am personally excited by the choice of Italia Ricci as the keynote speaker for CancerCon. There aren't many ways to express this without using about 100,000 words but basically, I am thrilled that a vehicle like "Chasing Life" is reaching a brand new audience and getting the word out to a whole new audience. Having seen Italia at OMG/east in New York last fall and having gotten the opportunity to meet her in person, I can definitely say that I disagree with your self-answered question "Someone who is incredibly active in advocating for young adults with cancer? Of course not." Italia happens to be exactly that -- someone who is incredibly active in advocating for young adults with cancer. 

    It's easy to argue that Italia is just "using" the young adult cancer community to further her own profession and the fact that she's not a survivor herself makes her less able to "connect" with us. But a cancer research doctor or an oncology nurse is, depending on how you view it, very much the same thing. Someone who is making a living immersed in the young adult cancer world. If Ms. Ricci was completely mum about the young adult cancer world, or if it was obvious she wasn't trying to learn about the young adult journey in order to more effectively advocate for our cause, I might be skeptical. But I believe she is proving herself and I feel she should be more than welcomed into our community for her outreach and her efforts. 

    Either way, I hope you don't swear off future CancerCon's because of a choice of keynote speakers. There are so many invaluable sessions, personal connections, workshops, and amazing opportunities to meet people there. Not everyone is going to like every speaker, or every choice for every session, or every city CancerCon winds up being in, but that diversity is what makes our community so amazing.

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