New Orleans, LA December 10, 2013 - It's not happiness that brings you gratitude, it's gratitude that brings you happiness. Today I am a very happy girl. As I sit in the Louis Armstrong Airport waiting for my delayed flight home to Philadelphia from the American Society of Hematology's Annual Meeting (#ASH13 on social media) I am reflecting back on my experience. I have a lot for which I am grateful.
I am grateful for the educational grant that enabled the International Myeloma Foundation to bring 12 patient advocates from across the United States to the American Society of Hematology's Annual Meeting.
I am grateful that IMF asked me to be one of those patient advocates this year and report from #ASH13.
I am grateful for the progress that has been made in treating myeloma in the last decade; because of these advances I am well enough to travel alone halfway across the country five years post-diagnosis.
I am grateful for the many discussions I had with my fellow advocates during our time in New Orleans. These conversations both formal and informal enlightened me on treatment options, clinical trials, side effect management, advocacy, and the best place to get a muffuletta.
I am grateful for all the researchers that are bringing new treatment protocols and drugs to clinical trial. The passion I felt during the presentations of medical research abstracts and at the satellite events held throughout the conference was contagious.
I am grateful to everyone who has helped fund research, from the individual patient who held a grassroots bake sale to all who lobbied Washington to restore government funds for medical research.
I am grateful to my fellow myeloma warriors who have participated in clinical trials; without them we wouldn't have made any progress in our war against myeloma or have research abstracts to present.
I am grateful for the education the International Myeloma Foundation has provided me, from the new patient resource packet I received in the mail days after my diagnosis to the ongoing educational webcasts. The IMF hosted 3 live webcasts from #ASH13 this week and there are several recorded #ASH13 interviews posted on their website.
I am grateful for social media that has allowed me both to learn from others and share what I learned through Twitter - @MyelomaTeacher #ASH13IMF (I was in the top 5 influencers at #ASH13), IMF blogs, and a Patient Power interview.
I am grateful for my family and friends who continue to support me in my efforts to be a patient advocate.
This list could go on and on, but it's just about time to board my flight.
I plan on using what I learned to help others at my local in-person support group, in the several online communities of which I am a member, in my mentoring of newly diagnosed patients, by participating in myeloma related webcasts, and through continued engagement in social media.
Remember to use the following link to get all the myeloma highlights from #ASH13. http://myeloma.org/IndexPage.action?tabId=0&menuId=0&indexPageId=452&parentLinkId=7690&categoryId=0
Goodbye New Orleans, but thanks for the memories!