My first in-person CancerCon experience went well. I was nervous thinking about the trip. I do not travel much but I thought, “Why not try it out?”. I am happy that I did, and I was able to meet individuals that I only saw online. I had the opportunity to talk to them in person and get to know them on a deeper level.
My first day at the con, I met my con buddy, which was super awesome. It was a young lady who I had never met before so that made it even more exciting to learn more about her and our new blossoming friendship. I enjoyed many of the breakout sessions at the conference. I wanted to make the most out of going to the conference, so I decided that I was going to try to come out of my comfort zone a bit more by talking to many people. This actually helped, because a lot of the participants of the conference understood where I was coming from, and we bonded over things that have happened to us or are currently happening to us. To sweeten the deal of making new friends, I decided that I was going to bring party favors to the dance party! I brought many packages of balloons, an air hand pump, and some containers of Play Doh. The balloons were a hit, and a lot of people were on the dance floor playing with them and having a fun time.
There were times at the conference that were a little loud for me and so I really enjoyed that there was a room open just to relax and have casual conversations with people. There were arts and crafts in there, so if I didn’t want to talk I could just color and make bracelets or key chains to help ease my nervousness or uneasiness.
I have gone to young adult cancer conferences before, but they were digital conferences; so having an in-person conference was a whole new experience and being able to talk to the exhibitors and find out information helped me network and gain knowledge.
A big take away that I took from the conference was the breakout session about impostor syndrome. I often feel that when I go to AYA events (mainly online), there is a disconnect, and I feel like I’m in the wrong place; so, when I went into the breakout session and heard that other people felt the same way, I learned that I was not alone in those feelings.
By : Theresa Rees