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14th UICC Reach to Recovery International Breast Cancer Support Conference  30th May - 2nd June in Stockholm, Sweden


Uniting in Recovery : 14th UICC Reach to Recovery International Breast Cancer Support Conference was held this year on 30th May - 2nd June in Stockholm, Sweden. CPAA's Jennifer Quadros and Vandana Natu attended the meeting. Given below is their report.

The common thread of 'Uniting in Recovery' connected the mélange of over 350 delegates from across the world. Breast Cancer survivors, health professionals, volunteers, advocates, corporates and other interested individuals gathered at Norra Latin, Stockholm to share their vision, experiences and dedication for cure and care from the dreaded disease.

Of the 5 participants from India, Jennifer Quadros (33) & Vandana Natu (31) of Cancer Patients Aid Association represented Mumbai. Jennifer is undergoing her chemotherapy right now and Vandana was treated in 2005. They were the youngest patient/survivor in the conference. The travel grant for them was provided by Susan G. Komen trust.

The land of Volvo & Ericsson was sure in the smooth lane and highly charged. Starting dot on time, the opening was addressed by none other than Queen Silvia of Sweden! Ms. Ingrid Kossler - President, The Swedish Breast Cancer Association (BRO) and Ms. Isabel Mortara - Executive Director, International Union against Cancer (UICC) welcomed everyone.

BRO, Cancerfonden, Reach to Recovery International (RRI) and the UICC put together a fine succession of highly informative, insightful and sensitive talks and interactive sessions.

Quality of Life issues, New frontiers in Supportive Care, Telling your story workshop, Uniting with recovery, Evidence in Peer support, Social & Cultural factors, Role of Nursing in the multidisciplinary Clinics, Prognostic factors, New treatments & Techniques, Rehabilitation, Sexuality, Supporting the Partner and Family, Reconstruction & Plastic Surgery were some of the subjects talked about and discussed.

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From ancient Egyptian physicians saying 'there is no treatment for this disease' to the present day high tech. detection methods and latest cures - Breast Cancer treatment has moved ahead exponentially. New and emerging Digital Mammography, Tomosynthesis, Scintimammography, Electrical Impedance imaging, transillumination, Positron emission tomography (PET) have brought about a sea change in early detections & awareness and hence higher survival rates.

Special sessions on Lymphedema, exercises, Cancer in young women and benefit finding after Breast Cancer were also attended by Jennifer and Vandana. Both spoke of their experiences as survivors which was very moving and also of their long association with volunteer work in this field across the length & breadth of India. Having shared the nuances of overcoming cultural diversity, they instantly connected and hit a cord in all.

Lighter moments were not to be missed. Of all the places, seeing 'gobhi masala' being served at dinner in the famous Golden 'Nobel' room of the city Hall in Stockholm was a moment of absolute national pride!

At the Closing ceremony on 2nd June, Ms. Ann Steyn from South Africa was announced the new President of Reach to Recovery International. Amidst cheer, felicitations and a promise to apply the learning's to their home organizations & countries, the Conference came to an end.

Summer of 2009 awaits all in Brisbane, Australia where the 15th UICC Reach to Recovery International Breast Cancer Support Conference will be held.