By Kate Haleblian
When I was asked to represent Imerman Angels at ConcerCon in Seattle this year, I was absolutely ecstatic to have been considered for this opportunity. As the global pandemic of COVID-19 made itself comfortable in our country and around the world, large gatherings were quickly being cancelled, postponed, or converted to digital, which CancerCon respectfully followed suit in doing. While I was bummed to not have a chance to meet all of the adolescent/young adult (AYA) folks with who have been touched by cancer face-to-face, I was very curious as to how and if these personal connections could still be made exclusively online.
With a very user-friendly platform for this digital conference and many tutorials that answered all of the questions I had, I felt prepared and ready for a day of chatting about all things cancer and Imerman Angels. As folks popped into our virtual booth, I workshopped ways I would have approached and talked to these people in person with genuine kindness and interest in their personal experience that was brought to the convention. After I connected with the first attendee who was previously an Imerman Angels Mentee and had completed treatment, which put them in a place where they were now ready to register as a Mentor Angel, I was overflowing with excitement. I met people who were recently diagnosed with familiarity with our organization, already signed up and just wanted to say hello, and who were just diving into this new facet of their lives which involved cancer. In addition, I was able to connect with the other folks who were hosting booths at the convention. When I popped into First Descents, I realized that one of the girls representing them was someone who I had previously gone on a trip with through First Descents, which was a lovely surprise!
All in all, I was thrilled with how Digital CancerCon went. Being able to connect with people affected by cancer and hearing their stories while trying to find a way that we can help them is always heartwarming – especially as this day fell on the eve of my 10 year Cancerversary. The cancer community is one of the most supportive and beautiful that I am thrilled to be part of, especially on behalf of Imerman Angels.