24th Annual Women's Cancer Education Conference in Tampa
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09/19/11 Josh Holton
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Susan Conley reads about her experiences battling breast cancer in Chinese hospitals.


photo by Josh Holton

Cancer can often be difficult to diagnose and treat, but doctors and cancer survivors say it’s important for women to do self-examinations to catch the disease early. On Saturday Moffitt Cancer Center and FACTors hosted the 24th Annual Women’s Cancer Education Conference. More than 400 women from all over Florida flocked to a hotel near USF’s Tampa campus. Lynn Hildreth works with the Moffitt Cancer Center, Florida’s only cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute.

Keynote speaker Susan Conley is the author of The Foremost Good Fortune. She found out she had breast cancer after she had moved to China with her family.

She complained that when she had found a marble sized lump during a self examination, Chinese doctors told her not to worry. But when she was diagnosed, she received the help she needed, but some Chinese hospitals were not as up to date as US medical facilities.

But a woman who only wanted to be identified by her first name, Barbara, told Conley that even in New York City some doctors told her to wait before getting treatment. During question and answer panels between doctors and cancer patients, Barbara said she found out that there has been misinformation circulating around the community regarding mammograms.

Barbara’s struggle with cancer for more than a decade inspired Lorraine, a woman who has battled with Stage 4 breast cancer. When she met Barbara, she was only given two years to live. It was then that she reached a crossroads.

Lorraine was able to get cancer removed after demanding a plastic surgeon to remove painful lumps in her breasts. After this, she encourages all women to regularly examine themselves, and to be on the lookout for any new or painful changes in their bodies. About 75 service organizations attended the conference.

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