Sisters in Diagnosis


Greetings from Atlanta, GA and the 10th Annual Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer.

I am so honored to be here representing LIVESTRONG. This is an incredible opportunity to share a number of programs such as LIVESTRONG at School and services like Survivor Care, and Sharing Hope that pertain specifically to this amazing group of young women.

I want to tell you a bit about my experience here so far. I have been gratified by the number of women who have stopped by the booth to thank LIVESTRONG for providing the Guidebook. Noting that it was invaluable during their journey.

I have been heartbroken by the number of women who wish that their doctor had discussed fertility and Sharing Hope with them prior to treatment.

And I have been rendered speechless by the young mothers who want information on LIVESTRONG at School, and our collaboration with PBS’s Arthur because they need help discussing their cancer diagnosis with their children.

I can never understand it when people tell me that I’m an ‘inspiration’ to them, I just don’t get it. I’m simply doing what I have to do. But with each and every one of these women that I’ve met so far, all I can think of is how inspiring they all are. I am inspired, and also touched with sadness knowing all too well what some of my fellow attendees have endured.

During the opening session on Saturday morning, we paused for a moment of silence in honor of those that we have lost during the past year. The silence was deafening.

The days here have been filled with knowing smiles, caring touches and lots, and lots of fanning from hot flashes. Yup, as one speaker noted, we are all sisters in a sorority with the worst kind of initiation process.

The truth is that cancer sucks, plain and simple. It sucks that there are 700 young women at this conference right now who have been diagnosed with this horrible disease. Yet we celebrate life, we live strong, specifically with a dance party on Saturday night. We,re just simply doing what we have to do. We have to do ‘the chicken dance’.

We’re going to do ‘the chicken dance’ in honor of all of the weddings we hope to attend in the future, of our children, friends, maybe even our own. Attitude is everything.

Thank you to the Young Survivor Coalition, and Living Beyond Breast Cancer for organzing this incredible event. Thank you to the other sponsors, and to those of you who donate to LIVESTRONG and made our support of this conference possible. And most importantly, thank you to my fellow survivors for standing proud, sharing your stories, and living strong. You are an inspiration.



  1. Jody Schoger says:

    It’s great to know you are doing so well. I’m sending your post to Tina, who was cleaning my teeth last week when she received “THE” phone call that her biopsy was positive for breast cancer. She is 37. We sat and held hands while both of us listened to her doctor. I translated for her. It was one of those times I was so glad to be a survivor, so I could tell her about Livestrong, the Young Survivors Coalition and all the people who are working to stomp this disease once and for all.

    Thanks so much,

  2. Pam says:

    Thank you for all you, and LIVESTRONG do. And thank you for sharing your experience. I have always wanted to attend that conference. Wishing you many more years from a fellow “survivor sistah” of being able to do the “chicken dance”!!

  3. Scott Joy says:

    “Courage Dance,” I say!

    (“Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.” — John Wayne.)

  4. Marcia Chang says:

    As a young mom and now one-year survivor at the ripe age of 39, I thank you for all that you and LIVESTRONG have done for us. And, yes, Renee, you’re indeed an inspiration. Anyone who has survived, moved on, and done something for other survivors is an inspiration to all of the newbies being diagnosed and searching for hope.

    Thank you!!!!

  5. Angela Nicosia says:

    Hi Renee,

    I wanted to say meeting you has inspired me and Changed my LIFE…
    Thank you for everything and I will be in touch all the time… (If that is okay??)

  6. So glad you attended the conference! We had such an amazing time and met so many amazing women!

  7. Linda Santos says:

    Dear Renee,

    I loved reading your message and experiences at the Conference. I am going to send this along to my dear friend who is a newly diagnosed breast cancer survivor! She is a “young woman” in spirit, energy and attitude and will treasure your words, Renee.

    As always, heartfelt thanks and love…
    California Linda

  8. skippy says:

    Those attending this conference will hear many moving and motivating stories that they will be able to use as they “mentor” others.
    Follow the Paralympic Winter Games starting March 12 because there you will see many who have suffered huge life changing experiences through illness and accident but also from being in “Harms Way” in service of us all!
    Take these examples of courage and use them to motivate on “down days” which many will experience in the course of their treatment cycles, remember that for most the pain and inconvenience will be temporary whilst they continue facing their life on a permanent basis

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