Monday, February 4, 2008

Neel Stallings - Charlotte, NC

It has now been four months since the Global Advocate Summit in Budapest, Hungary, so I’ve had time to reflect on what happened there and what it meant to me.

When I got the news that I had been chosen as a delegate, I was absolutely elated. What a fabulous opportunity to meet other advocates from around the world and discuss how to work together towards a world without breast cancer.

Additionally, when I was asked to be a facilitator for one of the breakout sessions, “Making the Case for Early Detection,” I was truly honored, and I knew I had a big job ahead of me. Early detection is so important – after all, it saved my sister and me, both breast cancer survivors. I wanted to ensure that everyone in this session participated and shared their knowledge and that we all left with a plan of action.

The Summit itself far exceeded my expectations, which were already extremely high. The presentations were both motivational and sobering. On the one hand, we could feel proud about all of the advances that have been made in this field. On the other hand, there are still so many struggles, myths, unnecessary deaths, etc. that people around the world face on a daily basis. My heart ached when I heard some of the stories, and my resolve to continue fighting this horrible disease was definitely strengthened.

The breakout session was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had as a facilitator. There were eight countries represented, and the information and encouragement that was shared was powerful. I feel like we all bonded during the session, and I knew that we would stay in touch with each other and help each other, regardless of the miles between us.

I left the Summit feeling optimistic and hopeful, because I had met people from around the world who were dynamic and clearly committed to ending breast cancer forever. I felt like I was in the company of giants, and it was both exciting and humbling. My own commitment to a world without breast cancer has taken an exponential leap, thanks to the Global Advocate Summit. Thank you, Komen…what a gift!