“The OMG2014 Cancer Summit for Young Adults was amazing! It’s incredible to see hundreds of young adult cancer survivors becoming their own advocates, and seeking the connections and resources that they need to thrive.”

– Laura Scruggs

Brock Yetso, stops to “Zach” with a survivor at the OMG2014 UCF Fun Run

This past weekend UCF and Stupid Cancer held a 5K Fun Run at Stupid Cancer’s OMG2014 Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada. The OMG Summit is one of the largest conferences for young adults impacted by cancer in North America. Panels were held discussing everything from physical wellbeing to rallying community support. Talking to a number of survivors and UCF staff who attended the Summit and Fun Run revealed a number of great discussions on the endless issues young adult survivors face.

“I enjoyed the ’Meditation and Mindfulness’ discussion the most this year.” said Scott Slater, testicular cancer survivor. “I felt that it touched on something that is so needed by this community. (And I was glad to see that quite a few attendees were very new to the concept and therefore could benefit greatly)” Laura Scruggs, Program Manager of Mission Engagement at UCF was excited to see, “an entire panel discussion dedicated to discussing the ‘First Steps to Fitness,’ which definitely reflects the growing emphasis on studying the importance of exercise during and after treatment.”  Many panels allowed for imitate discussion, namely the “Just For Girls/Guys” series. According to Melinda Hood, uterine cancer survivor, “I really enjoyed the “Just For Girls” panel. It is a great chance to let it all hangout and ask questions you might not ask in another setting.” On the flip side, Paul Berman, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor said,  My favorite panel this year, [and every year], is the Just for Guys session. We get to talk about anything and everything that is bothering us as guys: relationships, dating, diagnoses, and of course, how to get your life back to “normal” and get busy living. I got to hear a bunch of people’s stories, situations, issues and contribute advice based on all of my experiences. I consistently hear feedback from all guys who attend about how happy they are to be able to talk openly and get other opinions from other guys who ‘get it’.

Overall the importance of physical activity, and promotion there of, was highly present at the summit. “I feel like there was a fair amount of importance attached to things like exercise, meditation and nutrition — the very things that people stop doing first when ‘life gets in the way.’” remarked Slater. I think OMG did a good job promoting health and exercise this year.”, said Berman. “In addition to the fun run, which was a great addition from previous years, we had several other sessions which also focused on health and exercise, such as the ‘First Step to Fitness’ class, ‘Meditation & Mindfulness’, and ‘Practical Nutrition in the Real World’. I think these are great ways to promote just how much being healthy plays a role in life after cancer.” By engaging the Ulman Cancer Fund in hosting the Fun Run, Stupid Cancer clearly wanted to demonstrate the importance of physical activity for survivors to their attendees. The incredible turnout for the Fun Run also reflected the growing interest in physical activity from the young adult cancer survivor community.” said Scruggs.

 

berman&slater_omg2014

Scott Slater (tutu) & Paul Berman (green shoes)

Judging from the 100 survivors who signed up for the 5K Fun Run, the idea of keeping active post-treatment is widely popular. “I was shocked at how many people came out to run so early on Friday morning!”, reports Scruggs. “Not only did about 100 participants walk and run, but there were also dozens of folks dressed up for the event in everything from tutus to superhero costumes. We were thrilled to see how enthusiastic people were about being active at OMG.” Hood said, “There were a variety of people who participated.  Some who were recently in treatment and some who had been cancer free for years.  I loved that people of any ability level were encouraged to participate.” Melanie Kabo, who is currently under going treatment, states “The fun run was great, for me personally it reinforced the importance of being active. I think for others it did as well, as several people walked, they realized that they can get out and walk a 5k, that’s pretty inspiring and reinforcing.”

Events like the 5K Fun Run are great for engaging those who may not be so confident in their running abilities. Hood states, I think events like the fun run do a great job at reintroducing survivors to physical activity.  Fitness walking or running is something just about anyone can do and events like this that were very social are important to show people that you don’t have to do it alone.”  I think the fun run was a great way to get people who are looking to get started on the road to fitness moving.”, according to Berman. “It provided various pacing options for people of all levels, so that everyone could participate.” 

Overall, Stupid Cancer’s OMG2014 5K Fun Run was a great success! We were able to meet many amazing people and share incredible stories. It also acted as a great opportunity to connect more survivors and patients to our Cancer to 5K program. According to Scruggs, “More patients and survivors than ever before had mentioned that their treatment team emphasized exercise as a part of their survivorship, but were searching for a place to get started. I was really proud to be able to provide them with a zero-cost option for getting back on their feet (Cancer to 5K).” 

We’re already looking forward to next year’s summit. If you’re interested to hear more about the Fun Run or learn more about Cancer to 5k please contact Laura Scruggs at laura@ulmanfund.org.