ThyCa 98 Opening Remarks

Thyca `98: First Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Conference
Opening Remarks by Ric Blake, Thyca `98 Coordinator
9:30 a.m., Saturday, 19 September 1998

Welcome to Thyca `98, the first conference of thyroid cancer survivors. 

I am Ric Blake. I am a survivor and coordinator of this year's conference. 

There are many who have given much to make this historic event happen. On behalf of all of us here and of those who are here in spirit, I offer my sincere thanks to those volunteers who have worked for 18 months to create Thyca `98. We would not be here today without your gifts of time, talent and financial assistance. And most importantly, your warm and caring hearts.

We offer special thanks to our two corporate sponsors, Genzyme and Knoll pharmaceutical companies. Their sponsorship covered much of the cost of the conference. We have also received more than $1,000 in individual contributions, which will pay for the photocopy machine in the resource room and the coffee
and tea we have in the morning. Thank you to all those who have given us financial support.

We have a few HOUSEKEEPING issues to go over. 

Return these three forms to the registration desk. First Thyroid Cancer Newsletter - Biogenesis, Inc.  Your profile - your personal information will be kept secret.  Conference evaluation. 

Next, you need to know a few of the folks who have volunteered to answer your questions, solve your problems and to make your experience this weekend as pleasant as possible.

Please stand when I introduce you, so everyone will know who you are:

BETTY is our hotel and conference schedule coordinator. BETTY is also in charge of our Thyca `98 T-shirt sales.

JAN is our registration coordinator.

KAREN has been my brain during the two times I've been hypo this past year.

KIM and JOHN are our problem solvers.

SONJA is the artist whose photographs enrich our lives.

ERIC developed our mission statement.

My wife, DIANE, has kept me sane.

KAREN. Recognize Karen Ferguson for her work to organize and nurture the AOL chat room, without whom none of us would be here.

Finally, this conference is designed to be as informal as possible. Early in our planning, we agreed that Thyca `98 would be for survivors, by survivors. The atmosphere we wanted to create is summed up in our mission statement: 

To Educate, so we and our families better understand our disease.

To Participate, so others learn from our experience.

To Communicate, so we and our health care professionals better understand each others' needs.

To Congregate, so we can enjoy being among friends.

To keep Thyca `98 as informal as friends gathered around your kitchen table, we've planned our sessions to be group discussions rather than workshops facilitated by experts. Each session will be facilitated by a survivor. Some are co-facilitated by health care professionals. 

Our facilitators are not here as experts, but as equal participants with everyone else in the group. Their role is to help the discussions begin and end on time, to run smoothly and to help insure everyone has an opportunity to ask questions and to share their experiences.

What happens at this conference and in each session will be determined by ALL of us. As a participant, you are in charge. 

If you recognize a problem, offer to help fix it. 

If you see someone needs help, extend your hand. 

If you want to change this weekend's schedule, find the person who can help you.

If you want to volunteer, check at the registration table for ways to help out.

If you see someone frowning, smile.

If you want to complain, come to me. The problems that will occur this weekend are my failures, no one else's. 

If you want to make next year's conference better than this, join the steering committee. Thyca `99 will be created by you.

Before anything else, let's keep in mind that our goal is to enjoy ourselves, share our experiences, support each other and celebrate our lives.

We hope you enjoy the weekend...