A Tearful Golden Moment at #PSTM16
I unexpectedly had a tearful golden moment at #PSTM16 the last evening I was there. #PSTM16 was the first conference I have attended since opening a non-profit 501c3 Foundation to support and empower patients with education about options in breast reconstruction. I will have many more blogs to write about my experience at the conference but this was truly a golden moment for me in more ways than one.
An Evening of Celebrating Twitter Connections and Friendships
It was at one of many special events that occurred at the conference. This particular event was arranged by Dr. Karen Horton, one of the many talented plastic surgeons I engage with on Twitter and other social media venues to push out valuable information to patients interested in breast reconstruction. The event was sponsored by Allegan and it was an absolutely lovely evening. Allergan made it memorable for us all and I want to thank them. The plastic surgeons present that night were the ones I admire for their passion and commitment to their patients.
Many of them were so gracious to come up to me, hug me, and thank me for all that I am doing as a patient educator. I can’t tell you what that meant to me! In reality, I could not do what I am doing were it not for their support, evidence based information, and unsurpassed dedication to their profession. This was an evening to celebrate all of the work, effort and passion that each of us in that room do every day for breast cancer and breast reconstruction patients. It was truly an evening to celebrate the success of the conference but more importantly, celebrate connections and close friendships.
I did not know this for sure but anticipated that Dr. Horton may ask us to share something personal that evening about Twitter, social media engagement, and what it means to each of us. She did indeed! We went around the table in turn. I was fourth in line. What happened next took me by complete surprise. I knew it was my golden moment. As soon as she asked us to say something, tears began welling up in my eyes in anticipation of what I knew I HAD to say. Not only did they well up but they began flowing down my cheek and I simply couldn’t gain my composure to make them stop. I tried to hide my emotion but those sitting close to me probably wondered what the heck was troubling me and causing me to wipe my tears.
Each person gave some wonderful answers but remained at their places to speak. When my turn came, I pushed my chair back and stood behind the plastic surgeon that did my DIEP flap surgery in December of 2014, Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo. I was red-eyed and emotional and still crying when I reached the front of the room. I’m not sure if they thought I was angry, ate something that made me ill; I wasn’t sure what they were thinking as they looked at me rather astonished in my emotional state and why I felt it necessary to stand in front of them to make my comment.
I told each of them that I wanted them to be patient as I tearfully choked my way through this moment. I said to them that although they develop special relationships with their patients and each of them knows that, I hear things behind the scenes that so many of them will never hear. I wanted these plastic surgeons to know the depth of what they have done for their patients and that I was there that evening to extend that gratitude and be the voice of so many of those patients.
Then I stood behind Dr. C. This man has a quiet, compassionate, confidence that I have witnessed in few individuals. Look at the position he takes in this photo; head humbly bowed. I placed my hand on his shoulder and replayed the day my husband and I walked out of his office after my initial consult to determine if he could rebuild my breasts after my mastectomy. I told those gathered for the evening’s event that we walked out of PRMA that day and my husband looked at me and said, “That guy is golden”. After my tribute, Dr. C stood up and gave me a warm, sincere hug. A golden moment!
So Many to Honor that Evening!
I want to acknowledge those present that evening who have been so supportive of my efforts to educate more patients about breast reconstruction options.
Bottom row: left to right
Dr. Paco Canales, Dr. Steve Pisano, Dr. Smita Ramanadham, Kyle Diller of ASPS, Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo, Dr. Samuel Lin, Dr. Heather Furnas, Dr. Daniel Liu, Dr. Roy Kim, Dr. Ondrej Mestak
Top row: left to right
Dr. Fawn Hogan, Dr. Camilla Jay Stewart, yours truly, Dr. Suzanne Trott, Dr. Karen Horton, Dr. Olivier Branford, Anita Mohan, Dr. Oscar Ochoa
I know that many patients feel the same way about the plastic surgeons that I was so honored to be with that evening. I took that golden moment because they are such amazing individuals. Getting to know them on a more personal level at #PSTM16 was truly a highlight of my year and the decision to move forward to open a Foundation to support those considering breast reconstruction. I didn’t know that golden moment was on my bucket list but now I do and can happily keep it with some of the best memories of my life.
There will be more blogs to come about the conference but I wanted to start with this moment!
A Tearful Golden Moment at #PSTM16