Ambassador for the NFK?


Last week I received an invite for a conference for patients with metastatic breast cancer at the end of April in Philadelphia, the city where I went to college. It is a yearly event organized by Living Beyond Breast Cancer, a non-profit patient organization based in the US. Since then I’ve been thinking about going. Some of you already encouraged me to go, and Nancy is prepared to travel to Philly to attend the conference with me, so I won’t have to go alone. Today, my colleague and friend Yvonne encouraged me to go as well. So I’ve decided to go! The ticket is cheap and the conference itself is only 75 dollars. The hotel is not too expensive either, so no excuses there! So I’ll book my ticket this week and start organizing a trip to Philly, a place I called home for four years (ok, it was a long time ago, but still!).

I’m still a ‘board member’ of the Penn/Wharton club of The Netherlands and we’re planning to do a bid to organize the Wharton Global conference in Amsterdam in 2015. So who knows, perhaps I’ll have a reason to visit Penn as well. I’d love to see some of my East Coast friends while I’m there, but the time is short, so we’ll see.

This morning I had an interview in Utrecht with a manager and a projectleader from the Dutch federation of patient cancer organizations (Nederlandse Federatie van Kankerpatientorganisaties – NFK). I had applied for a volunteer position as an Ambassador to help people with cancer who have questions about (going back to) work.

Thirty people had applied to volunteer – they were counting on fifteen – and they are willing to accept everyone, and are meeting all the applicants, which I think is to their credit. So often, people judge others just on the ‘outside’ and the fact that they’re taking time to meet with each person who applied is really well done. While I was introducing myself someone was playing the accordeon outside – it was very strange. It turned out not to be an April Fool’s joke at all (that’s what I thought); no, the empty offices next to the NFK were now occupied by members of the elderly society (can’t quite think of the right translation but it’s close enough)  who were now playing the accordeon.

It was an interesting conversation and it was nice to finally meet some people who are working in the field. They are offering a training for all the volunteers at the end of May and also will meet with us four times this year to hear about our experiences. The work entails meeting with people – employees, businesses and patients – and answering questions they may have or pointing them in the right direction. It sounds interesting and I’m looking forward to the training.

After the meeting, I went to The Hague to finish my presentation and meet with my colleagues only to drive back to Utrecht two hours later for our meeting with other agencies. I presented the preliminary results of our Vision for data exchange and it was well received. At six pm, I drove home in my convertible in the sun – it was nearly 20 degrees centigrade. April has begun well!

Tomorrow I have a bone scan at the hospital and hopefully some time to relax in between the injection and the scan. Next week I’ll update you on the results. Enjoy spring everyone!