The comments on the last post remind me really how amazing it was that this year, I was able to go to a professional conference, even wrapped, and make the most of it. I was right in the thick of things, leading meetings, mentoring young scientists, encouraging old friends, and listening to the leaders of my field. I made the most of every moment, dragging myself back to the hotel every night exhausted. But the good kind of exhausted, y’know?
A year or so ago, it wasn’t this way. Susan K commented on the last post, “last year in Huntsville, you were uncomfortable, hiding, avoiding, stressed about all the interactions and got difficult, stupid, hard-to-answer comments in reply. In Houston this year, you are confident, matter-of-fact, no-biggie-let’s-move-on, and you get what you want and need back.” She’s right. She’s really right. [And she was there in Huntsville, so there’s no glossing over it. It was very difficult for me to be at a scientific meeting bald, sick, tired, and with a body that would barely make it through the sessions. At one point, I even lay down on the chairs in the back row, reluctant to leave the talks, but without enough energy left even to sit up.]
That time in Huntsville was so painful it actually hurts to remember it. I was in the middle of chemo, then, though, and hadn’t yet had surgery, so I was still carrying around the cancer, both literally and figuratively. If you weren’t around then, here’s a couple of posts about the questions that my colleagues asked and what I wish had happened instead. I didn’t leave the hotel, because I didn’t have any energy. I passed out during a working lunch and had to have former colleagues help me walk back to the elevator, where my husband met me and nearly carried me back upstairs. I was sick and nauseated. Heck, I had just had chemo a few days earlier.
Yeah. This year’s conference went thousands of times better.
I’m back home now, and it was a success.
A big success.
I’m going to take a couple days to catch my breath, and then I’m going to rerun and/or link to a few posts that tell my cancer story in a nutshell, for those of you just joining us, or who weren’t here in June 2007. I keep thinking that maybe I’ve said enough … and then I get emails from survivors and families who want me to say more. I will. I’ll keep talking as long as it’s helping someone out there. There is a message here. Survival is wonderful, but none of us really know how long we have on this earth. I have one motto, and I’m going to live by it. I’m making today count.