I just finished up my week at the UICC 15th Reach to Recovery Conference in Brisbane, Australia. The whole conference was pretty terrific, 600 delegates from 331 organizations and 104 countries. The best part for me was getting to have conversations with women representing the developing countries.
I met a terrific friend from the Kenya Breast Health Programme in Kenya, Mary Onyongo, is the executive director. In addition to sharing with us that poverty and shame are the biggest obstacles in the way of treating or even identifying breast cancer in her country, Mary has a wicked funny sense of humor and I enjoyed her immensely. Did I mention Mary wants Amazon Heart to bring ours bike to Kenya and ride. When I suggested we might also help by building something, she said it was more important for the women to see us on our bikes and to bring them out of their homes, and hopefully face the shame .
Another great pal was Aliza Dolev. Aliza served 20 years as a psychologist in the Israeli Army specialising in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder before leaving to work in the world of cancer.
Aliza developed a program for young women diagnosed with cancer, between the ages of 19-35, who fall between the chairs (cracks). They send the young women into the desert in jeeps- sound familiar? Also they have a program once a year where the young women are sent out in groups to navigate together for a week sailing. This is to help them realize that they can do for themselves.
Aliza has offered for Tim, Wy and I come and stay with her family next summer, sounds good!
This group was one of my favorites. They are all survivors of breast cancer, and delighted for their camaraderie. They assured me that just their group was enough to keep their beloved surgeon in business and that he did not have to practice with any others. Also that the dirty jokes kept them happy. They dragged one husband along for the trip this year but were hoping to bring others along to the next conference!
These are just 3 of the many, many stories from new friends I met, I was treated to such a rich exchange with this week. Now off to lay low a few days with old friends before we meet our bikes and more new friends for phase to of this great Aussie adventure.
Oh ya, and as for how my speaking went. It went well- with 6 or so of my American pals in the audience for added confidence.
* I was asked to contribute my thoughts on the conference to Bloom, Reach to Recovery International's October Issue.