On April 23rd, 2014, I boarded an airplane in Cleveland, Ohio, and flew to Las Vegas for the first time in my life. This was thanks to the financial support of the Steven G. AYA Cancer Research Fund. The fund’s generous travel scholarship paid for me to attend the OMG! Stupid Cancer conference for young adult cancer survivors, which was held at the Palms Casino Resort. The conference is a wonderful event that allows cancer survivors in the 18-40 age range meet, network, and have a good time over a long weekend. It is so life affirming to meet others that share your life experiences, especially when a major challenge for young adult survivors is the loneliness you often feel, because it seems you are the only one going through what you are.
The conference is a nice blend of official, cancer related events, and free time to explore and enjoy all that Las Vegas has to offer. The event included an official tour of The Strip, a pool party, dancing on the 55th floor of the Palms, and even pub trivia with your fellow attendees! There were great speakers and talks on topics like Genomics, being LGBT with cancer, meditation, and managing your anger. The conference was inclusive and welcoming, and was a great chance to really air your feelings, and feel like you matter. My favorite event of the entire weekend was the Just For Gals: Nothing is Taboo talk, which included guest speaker Tamika Felder, who is a personal inspirational figure of mind, on both cancer survivorship and body image. Like the entire conference, this session was patient focused, and emphasized being able to speak freely about issues that can be difficult to talk about, such as fertility, reproduction, body image, family relationships, and friendship.
In addition to meeting some great people, my boyfriend (who attended with me) and I rode the High Roller Observational Ferris Wheel, which just opened in early April 2014. It gave a perfect view of the Strip, as well as the surrounding red rock and mountain-filled desert. The Las Vegas Strip is truly a unique experience that must be experienced to be believed. Only in Vegas can you see the Eiffel tower, the New York Skyline, and an exploding volcano, all within one mile!
I view this experience as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I was given because of the philanthropy of those that run the Steven G. AYA Cancer Research Fund. I think this is a very worthwhile charitable action on the part of this group. Research can be scientific to be sure, but it also includes meeting and networking with those that share your experiences. It was also great to have a representative from Ohio present, to bring even more diversity to the conference. I am forever grateful to this organization for helping to give me such a wonderful experience.