Guest blog by Carol Mikel

I had the privilege of attending the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium for the second consecutive year. This time around, the experience felt a bit less intimidating compared to my initial attendance, making it more accessible and enjoyable. I believe the value I receive from the symposium will increase each year I attend. 

Unlike the previous year, I made better use of the Patient Advocate lounge this time. I observed numerous heartwarming connections among Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) sisters, creating a unique space where they could bond with each other. Despite not having experienced breast cancer myself, I initially thought I might feel out of place. However, to my surprise, everyone expressed gratitude for my contributions. Typically working behind the scenes on tasks like website management, digital marketing, and database maintenance, receiving thanks for my efforts made me feel more relaxed among these amazing people.

The IBC Network Foundation had a booth this year. It was truly remarkable to witness the doctors and researchers who we have funded research for stop by and pose for photos in front of our illuminated sign that displayed “Inflammatory Breast Cancer.” We can’t wait to see these images making the rounds on social media. 

The researchers expressed a clear interest in speaking with the two Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) patient advocates who were managing our booth. This unique interaction proved mutually beneficial for both the researchers and the advocates. 

Despite being a breast cancer-focused event, we were not surprised to encounter individuals who were unfamiliar with inflammatory breast cancer. We provided them with informative handouts and a QR code, directing them to a dedicated page on our website for further details. 

The biggest highlight was a panel discussion on inflammatory breast cancer, featuring the participation of Terry Arnold, Founder of the IBC Network Foundation, and Naomi Johns, Vice Chair of the IBC Network UK. When a room filled with doctors and researchers spontaneously applauded in response to a statement made by Terry, it was a clear indication that we are doing something right. It was a proud moment for me knowing I was a part of an organization that is working so hard to fund IBC research.

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