I've been to a lot of conferences in my career. There were at least two to three big legal conferences I used to attend while I was practicing law. I went to conferences because of the knowledge and the Continuing Legal Education (CLEs). Being an introvert, I really didn't go to conferences to network but I definitely utilized the opportunities when I could.
Now that I'm no longer practicing and don't have a firm where I can write off the cost of legal conferences, I haven't been to any more legal conferences. I still need to get my CLEs done, but I've found other options that don't cost anything and don't require travel. The conferences that I'm attending now revolve entirely around breast cancer or dealing with the aftermath of breast cancer.
List of recommended conferences
I'm sure there are many amazing conferences that I've not heard of and I would love to hear from those of you who have been to conferences I haven't attended! Here are the conferences I've attended and my recommendations for each, in no particular order.
Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) Metastatic Conference
I was in the Hear my Voice Advocacy class this year at the LBBC metastatic conference in Philadelphia in April. They have yoga and great speakers, not all of whom are doctors, and it's an amazing time of connection with other metastatic patients. LBBC works with a variety of companies to get travel grants and they were incredibly accommodating of my crazy dietary needs. I would highly recommend this one!
San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS)
This conference is held at the beginning of December each year and is the conference that breast cancer researchers from all over the world attend to present their research. There are poster sessions and informational sessions hosted by drug companies. It's overwhelming but is the place to get information on what is happening in research. One of the amazing FDA medical oncologists, Tatiana Powell, MD is heading up the education committee this year and has set a goal of getting more patient advocates to attend. The price point is pretty high, so if you go, find a roommate or two or three to share costs. There are also travel grants issued by quite a few organizations.
American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO)
This also happens once a year in the spring and the location changes. My medical oncologist goes every year and speaks highly of the connections she makes. The only fly in the ointment for this conference is that all cancers are represented, so it's a little harder to get to the specific breast cancer researchers and doctors, but it's possible. I've seen fewer travel grants for this conference, but there are some.
Metastasis Research Society (MRS)
I attended a conference jointly presented by MRS and Metavivor in the summer of 2018 and they had another the summer of 2019. While this specific series was specific to a grant, the MRS has great resources and a great focus.
Why attend conferences?
Knowledge is my biggest why. I seek out conferences that are specific to metastatic breast cancer. I've found that going to conferences that are focused on early-stage and metastatic cancer is just not enough for me. Now that I've been living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer for a few years, I need and want the deeper dive, the more complex discussions and the access to people who really know their stuff.
What conferences have you been to?
Any experiences you'd like to share?
Have you gained new friends in your metastatic cancer journey?