Like many conventions, when you sign-in at the beginning of the ASH conference you are given several program guides, a newsletter and other support materials, all tucked nicely into a black tote bag. The bags are very nice–strong zippers and pockets and straps. On the front of the bag is a large ASH logo. Remember that 40,000 people attended this conference. So, when you are out walking in downtown New Orleans, or even later at the airport, you see the bags everywhere. I am proud to have attended and show-off my bag proudly. Silly, I know. But it does have its advantages. While checking my bags, I noticed the young woman behind me was carrying her ASH bag. Turns out she is an oncologist from the Washington D.C area. Remember my patient interview with Amy on Saturday? I wish she could have met this young woman, Dr. Patricia Oneal, from Howard University–pleasant, approachable and caring. Next stop; a 45 minute wait at the gate. The grey haired gentleman sitting across the isle from me also carried an ASH bag. Turns out he was an oncologist from Missouri. He never told me his name–I never gave him a chance! Learning he had attended a number of the same seminars I had, I immediately started peppering him with myeloma related questions. He kindly answered in a very pragmatic way. Again, personable, kind and thoughtful. Both of these people smash the stereotype of the rigid, know-it-all doctor. Our interactions made my trip through the airport a meaningful experience. But I’m not finished yet. While loading the plane–another black bag. This time in belonged to the Tampa area drug rep for Millennium, makers of Velcade. Having returned from a visit to their corporate office only a few months ago, we too had plenty to discuss. I’m not sure what her name is either…She’s sleeping now and I don’t want to wake her mid-flight.
I am so blessed to still be healthy enough to learn and interact and share anything and everything I can with my fellow myeloma patients. It is a responsibility I take very seriously. Please don’t hesitate to e-mail or call me with comments, questions, or even if you are simply having a bad day.
Helping you helps me cope with my cancer. Helping you gives me purpose–it gives me energy–it gives me hope.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat