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Anderson Network Cancer Survivorship Conference Concludes With a Beat

Volunteer Voice - Fall 2010

In an unusual departure from past conferences, the 22nd annual Anderson Network Cancer Survivorship Conference came to a close with a bam and a thump and a strong drumming beat.

The 22nd annual Anderson Network Cancer Survivorship Conference, held Sept. 24-25, brought experts from The University of Texas 
MD Anderson Cancer Center to deliver empowering messages to many cancer survivors and their caregivers.

This exciting activity was provided by The Drum Café, a new trend in unity-building brought from Africa. The Drum Café’s unique and very hands-on approach leverages music as a common language for relationships, allows an opportunity to celebrate success and tackles challenges. There were no spectators during this powerful conclusion − each conference attendee was provided a drum and followed the lead from the stage.

Held Sept. 24-25, the Survivorship Conference brought more than 45 experts from MD Anderson to deliver empowering messages to many cancer survivors and their caregivers. A total of 542 people registered for the conference, with participants coming as far away as Australia, Canada and Great Britain. Laura Hearn of the Anderson Network staff led preparations for the conference supported by a talented team of 43 patient volunteers and other Network and Volunteer Services staff.  

Integrative medicine expert Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., and neurosurgeon Jeffrey Weinberg, M.D., along with his patient Gail Goodwin, also an employee at 
MD Anderson, informed attendees on what you can do to prevent cancer — or a recurrence of cancer − and what is the latest news in neurosurgery and neuro-oncology.

As a keynote speaker, Cohen kicked off the Survivorship Conference with an encouraging message stating that fairly simple lifestyle choices might be effective in staving off cancer. He advised participants to take their health into their own hands by exercising more often, switching to a plant-based diet, avoiding environmental contaminants and reducing stress by meditating, practicing yoga and trying other forms of complementary medicine.

Goodwin, an MD Anderson patient since April 2009, and Weinberg wrapped up the conference sessions with a discussion on "a very bad April Fool's Day joke" that turned out to be a brain tumor. Titled "She Had Her Head Examined: A Patient and Her Surgeon Share the Inside Story," the talk featured Goodwin's observations on the experience of going from being an MD Anderson employee to a patient, and Weinberg's perspective on her treatment.

In between Cohen, Goodwin and Weinberg, a medical panel plus numerous breakout sessions were open to all cancer patients, their families and caregivers. The conference included nearly two dozen informative breakout sessions, and 
MD Anderson President John Mendelsohn, M.D., led the popular medical panel on Saturday morning.

On a lighter side, humorist Jill Conner Browne, better known as The Sweet Potato Queen, provided entertainment at the banquet on the evening of Sept. 24. Kenneth Woo, a dedicated Anderson Networker, was presented with the annual Joseph T. Painter Award.  A recipient of this award is chosen each year in recognition of exceptional contributions to patient networking activities and support.

The Anderson Network, with a membership base of more than 1,700 patients and caregivers, provides support and educational services for patients/survivors, their families and caregivers. Anderson Network is a program of Volunteer Services.

Mark your calendars now − the next Anderson Network Cancer Survivorship Conference will be help on Sept. 16-17, 2011.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center