The inaugural National Women’s Survivors Convention invaded Nashville’s Music City with a vision: “to transform survivorship from a mood into a movement by empowering, educating, and connecting women whose lives have been touched by cancer.” The convention took place in the Presidential Ballroom of Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, Thursday, August 22 – Saturday, August 24, 2013.
The three day convention grew from the vision of Karen Shayne, co-founder of Women Survivor Alliance and a 25-year cancer survivor. WSA is a non-profit organization which connects a network of women affected by cancer, helping them “find their voice, improve their quality of life, and embrace their new normal.”
Educational and motivational seminars were hosted by respected experts, physicians, and celebrities, such as Scott Hamilton and television personality, Tabatha Coffey.
The Little River Band’s live performance kicked off the opening night festivities, followed by RED CARPET LIVE!, a Pajama Party and Red Carpet Walk. The jaw dropping talent of The Pink Choir, which consists of gospel singers from Middle Tennessee, closed the convention with a beautiful and truly moving performance.
Celebrate Survivors 5k transformed “a MOOD into a MOVEMENT” with participants running and walking through the lovely grounds of the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Grand Ole Opry. One hundred percent of the 5k’s profits will be applied to the educational programs of the WSA.
Attendees were also able to peruse a ballroom full of shops, with everything from clothing, to purses, to healthy chocolates, to colorful scarves, artisan jewelry, and coffee mugs with inspirational quotes. Organizations, such as American Association for Cancer Research, American Cancer Society, Komen Nashville, and Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center, were ready to inform and educate visitors.
Stories of survivors, in their own words, were spotlighted in My 2nd Act, a brightly colored wall of testimonials. This moving and powerful display was sponsored by WSA partner Team Martina, the global volunteer community service group of Martina McBride.
WSA has also launched The Plum website. The world’s first women survivors’ magazine, The Plum is an educational resource full of motivational and living well articles, informative links, and books, beauty, and fashion suggestions. WSA adopted the fruit’s name because it is a symbol of hope. As China’s winters are ending the plum is the first blossom to push through the cold and grow.
In the event’s closing session, To Survivorville and Beyond, Shayne stated she wanted the focus of the event to be “all about survivors,” making sure all were “loved, honored, and appreciated.”
Next year’s National Women’s Survivor’s Convention, set for July 31–August 2, 2014, will once again transform Nashville into Survivorville. Shayne spoke proudly of this year’s event and the inspiration of attending survivors closing the last session with tears in her eyes and declaring “I’ll see all of you next year.”