By Ann Fonfa
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was lucky that it was in early 1993. I say that because 1993 was the very first year that NBCC held its Annual Advocacy Training Conference (now the NBCC Annual Advocate Summit). I wanted to be an advocate beginning a week after my first surgery, and this gave me a grand opportunity.
By May of that year, I had already found and formulated my interest in natural cancer strategies, combining that with my strong ability to network (pushy New Yorker really), making that first conference unforgettable for me.
I loved the workshops, loved meeting so many amazing strong women and men. I envied those who had been among the founders. And I found out how to understand evidence— such an important piece of advocacy—and about media, lobbying, and issues of the day. Always so many issues, so little time.
Those early years I traveled to the conference on the SHARE bus, and occasionally by Amtrak. Moving to Florida, meant hanging with new friends, but saying hello to old friends, handing out information I thought everyone should have. Once I started speaking at workshops, I encouraged folks to come and listen.
In 2004, I was “forced” to attend a family event on the very weekend I should have been with NBCC. Filled with regret, I traveled to the family event and missed that meeting. The next year people rushed up to greet me, worrying as we all do, that I had become ill in that year.
That’s the only conference I missed. Getting breast cancer brought me to a club I wish no one else had to join, but I have met the most amazing women and men—many of whom continue to inspire me.
As Florida Field Coordinator and serving on the Summit on Primary Prevention of Breast Cancer, I work all year to bring NBCC’s ideas to our state.
It IS time to change the conversation, and I am pledging to do all I can.