I woke up to another lovely morning in Cedar Park, with just enough time to pack up and watch an episode of "Shahs of Sunset" on my Blackberry (dear BravoTV, why even bother having Full Episodes on your website when you only offer the current full episodes on mobile... um, hello? People still use laptops and such and would rather watch a full episode on a larger screen than my cat's forehead.) before my friend, Dave, came back from his early start at work to
Either way, I made it to the BEAUTIFUL Renaissance Austin Hotel with plenty of time to check-in, unpack in my ridiculously large room, layout all my wigs, take a nap, schmooze with several LIVESTRONG Leaders as they came into the lobby before meeting my college friend, Emily, for lunch. One of the nice things about going to Austin with plenty of time around the planned events is that I had been able to meet up with a number of folks I rarely get the chance to see.
|How good does that look. I mean, SERIOUSLY!|
|Em and her NOM lunch!|
|Now, THAT'S a spread!|
The morning buffet at the Assembly was a sight to be seen. Two lines of tables covered in eggs, fruit, tortillas, salsas, beans, pastries... you name it, it was there. Except for the coffee. That was served individually. In teeny cups. (Dude... yeah, I know, they were standard catering cups, but this is not your typical crew.) No complaints, though - all in fun. Off we were to the Oak Glass Room (Glass Oak Room?) which was a lovely room relatively removed from the rest of the hotel, so we got to take a nice little stroll. There, we were privy to some great information about the Leader program. There are 3 main areas where we function, and many of us pick one and focus on that. The sessions were great with helping us see how to branch out a bit more, what programs were taking place and how we could help locally, nationally and legislatively.
Lunch was a delightful meal, and we were treated by a State of the Foundation update by Doug Ulman.
We were then treated with a surprise visit from none other but "The Boss," Lance Armstrong.
|Finally! I got a photo of him smiling! Photo Credit: Rica Mendes|
After lunch, our meetings continued, where we were introduced to Elden Nelson, aka "Fat Cyclist," and we had the opportunity to learn more and more about how we can bring LIVESTRONG back to our communities. A few sessions more and then we were dismissed so we could get ready for the "Texas Casual Dinner."
Now, a few words of caution. When inviting people from outside of Texas to a "Texas Casual" dinner, you need to explain what this means. As previous posts describe, I spent nearly a full day searching for a pair of cowboy boots, and ended up driving in circles for almost 45 minutes to find a cowboy hat. I also figured I'd look to "GCB" for an idea of what "Texas Casual" might look like. The result was this:
Of course, I learned, after realizing I was the only idiot outside of the University of Texas marching band to be wearing a cowboy hat and boots to the dinner. (A few folks wore their boots, but weren't stupid enough to match them with the hat.) I, however, felt I was committed to the look, so I stuck with it. This cowgirl knows to leave her hat on. And, after a few dozen margaritas (cleverly served in mason jars), I didn't really care that I looked like a reject from "The Real Housewives of Texas."
After breakfast was the Collaborative Mission Meeting, where we got to meet some of our partners including the Patient Advocacy Foundation, which provides case managers who give financial, emotional and other practical support and advice to cancer fighters, the Navigate Cancer Foundation, which assigns a nurse navigator to a cancer fighter to help them through the medical process, clarify the diagnosis and terms, and help the cancer fighter sort out their treatment plans, etc, Camp Kesem, which provides children of cancer fighters a free camp getaway all over the country, run and funded by college students and their own fundraising efforts, and our international partners. To kick things off, Camp Kesem led us in a round of "I'm a Little Teapot" Kesem style.
Especially meaningful for me was when the panelist for the Navigate Cancer Foundation announced her name. I immediately teared up. Sharon, whose voice was unmistakable to me, was not only representing this amazing partner organization, but she was my nurse navigator. I had the privilege of standing before the Assembly to declare without wavering that Sharon and her staff were largely responsible for why I was standing before them, confident in my decisions, etc. After that heartfelt reunion and Q&A session with the program leaders, we continued on with a role-playing exercise so that we all had an understanding of the complexities of just a basic diagnosis and the impact on an individual, as well as the many networks involved.
As quickly as one could say "LIVESTRONG," we were off to get our pictures taken by the amazing Liz Kreutz in a group photo that could have been a disaster had it not been for a little invention known as "deodorant."
|Can you find me? 5th row, 4th from the left, framed in armpit land.|