June 2 is National Cancer Survivors Day. For Karen Shayne and Judy Pearson, co-founders of the Women Survivors Alliance, it is also an opportunity to galvanize others to their 365 days-a-year mission.
Shayne and Pearson have both survived cancer. They have joined forces to spearhead a global call to action, reframing the state of cancer “survivorship” into a movement.
I spoke with each of them by telephone, to get the backstory on their goals, as they prepare to launch the first annual National Women’s Survivors Convention in Nashville, Tennessee (August 22 – August 24).
The tent will be large and inclusive. It will encompass women who have dealt with all types of cancers — without regard to where they are in the process. Partners, known as co-survivors, are encouraged to take part.
Like any conference, there will be keynote speeches and breakout panels. Included will be conversations about: Understanding Your Health Insurance Options and Healthcare Reform; Young Survivor Track; Balancing Work and Cancer , plus the too often overlooked subject — cancer’s impact on one’s sexuality.
A call has gone out for women to submit a short essay expressing what they have learned from their cancer experience. All submitted entries will be displayed at the convention.
A list of celebrities is lined up to participate. Shannon Miller, Olympic Gold Medalist, is the Honorary Chairperson. In 2011, Miller was diagnosed with a “malignant germ cell tumor,” which is a form of ovarian cancer. She underwent nine weeks of chemotherapy treatment. In June of this year, she will be delivering a baby girl.