There's a belief that once people are free of cancer for five years, their bodies are almost back to new, as if they never had cancer.
That’s a myth, says Janie Cunningham, executive director of the Breast Cancer Resource Center in Tacoma.
In reality, the radiation patients receive for their initial treatment may put them at increased risk of blood cancers, Cunningham said. People who undergo chemotherapy, especially for long durations or heavy doses, may end up with osteoporosis, memory problems or neuropathy in their legs or hands.
A free conference on Tuesday aims to educate and inspire cancer survivors about living with cancer and its after-effects.
The third annual Pierce County Survivors’ Conference is open to people newly diagnosed with cancer, those in treatment and those in decades-long remission, along with their family and caregivers.
Physicians, other health providers and experts will lead workshops exploring the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of cancer survivorship. Topics will range from insurance rights to chair yoga to emotional adaptation after cancer.
Doug Strauss, president and co-founder of Gloria’s Angels, will give the keynote address. The Federal Way resident is the father of Gloria Strauss, an 11-year-old girl whose battle with cancer inspired Gloria’s Angels, a nonprofit organization that helps families deal with life-threatening illnesses.
Participants also can browse through information booths from more than 40 vendors.
The conference will allow cancer survivors to connect with each other while learning about resources for further help and information.
Sessions on breast cancer-related themes will run throughout the day, in keeping with awareness that Washington state has the highest rate of breast cancer per capita.
Other workshop topics, including nutrition, fatigue and Ayurvedic medicine, apply to all kinds of cancer.
Organizers hope to draw 500 participants. Last year’s event drew 400.
Numerous nonprofit and community agencies are sponsoring the free, daylong conference at the University of Puget Sound.
Debby Abe: 253-597-8694 firstname.lastname@example.org