Just like many of you, I sometimes wake up to the Facebook message, “you have memories to look back on.” I always click it in hopes of seeing funny a picture of my kids or a cherished memory with friends and family. One that popped up for me last week, was this photo of me at my first NACCDO-PAMN conference in 2013 in Denver, hosted by the University of Colorado Cancer Center. Here I am, pregnant, at a conference that would change my life in ways I could have never imagined!
I remember the first friends I made at that Denver meeting. I connected with the NCI and AACI representatives for the first time; I went on my dine-around and met one of the speakers, who would later be a pinch-hit keynote at the 2017 Kentucky meeting just two days before the conference was to begin. I remember meeting Leslie, our fearless event planner and thinking how organized the conference was for attendees; I met seasoned PAMN members and they welcomed me with open arms, laughs and smiles; I ate daily breakfast with a NACCDO colleague I am still in contact with at our meetings; I had tears running down my face at lunch listening to one of the keynote speakers, Julie Aigner Clarkk, founder of Baby Einstein and cancer survivor, reading a children’s book about how to talk with your kids about a cancer diagnosis. Although I was a pregnant, hormonal mess, my first meeting was inspirational, and it was this meeting that brought out the meaning in the work we collectively do together.
This past week, we were supposed to be together, reconnecting and cultivating our relationships with colleagues and friends. Instead, we are practicing social distancing, perhaps working remotely, helping our cancer centers stay afloat with messaging and marketing initiatives, and making sure our patients have the access to the key information they need.
Although we cannot be together this week, I want you to know how much I miss seeing your faces and know that we will be together again soon. I want to thank my dear friend and colleague, Jim Goodwin for his service and leadership as PAMN chair over the last two years. I look forward to serving you in 2021 and 2022. Please know that you can contact me any time.
Erin McElwain, MHA
Chair, Public Affairs and Marketing Network of National Cancer Centers
Senior Manager, Market Development
University of Kentucky, UK HealthCare
Markey Cancer Center, Lexington, Ky.