“Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” Anais Nin

The American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS)/ International Psychosocial Oncology Society (IPOS) World Conference – From National to Global: Implementing the Standard of Psychosocial Care in Oncology convenes in Washington, DC next week. Hundreds of people from around the world will gather to speak, discuss issues, present studies and show research all involving the psychological and social care that is needed to help those who have received a diagnosis of cancer.

I’ll be there, too.

I go on my own without an affiliation with a major hospital or cancer treatment center or even any group that provides psychological care to cancer patients, their partners, families and friends. I feel a bit like someone going off to a huge university, not knowing anyone, unsure and a bit intimidated. I’ll be presenting a poster, In Any Language: Creating a Heartfelt Narrative in Patient Centered Cancer Care. I hope they like me …

Not wanting to give a lot of power to my fear and anxiety and my concerns that “no one will ask me to dance”, I am going with the intention of meeting some new colleagues who share some of my values about patient centered care. My grander hope is that I may even make some new friends. As a single practitioner, I work alone. While I seek consultation and conversation with others, it can still be isolating. I often write about the needs of the patients and their families but today I’m coming from the perspective of the professional or caregiver. As both patient and therapist, I understand the different needs of each group.

My contacts and connections in the cancer community are deeply meaningful. I am grateful for those who honor me with their trust as they struggle with heartache, pain, helplessness, and frustration. There can also be joy and transformation in the experience of life threatening illness. In the midst of this, I can feel tired and discouraged. Sometimes when I finish for the day, I feel lonely, the grief of others touches me and I, too, am sorrowful. I need someone to talk to, too. We all do …

My intention is to arrive in Washington, DC with a heart that is open to others who work with those facing life threatening illness. I’ll arrive looking to connect with others, to “create a meeting where a whole new world is born.”  I have a feeling I just might make a friend.  I’ll let you know.