Posted 10/3/2013 6:59 AM (GMT -7)
As a first time attendee at the Rochester GFMPH gathering, I wanted to share some of my observations. Hopefully, some of what I say will persuade those of you "on the fence" to attend one next year.
My husband and I knew that this gathering was not going to be about prostate cancer…it was simply a gathering of men diagnosed with prostate cancer, in various stages of their journey, along with their spouses/partners. From reading and hearing about past GFMPH events, we were expecting this weekend to be uplifting, filled with new friendships, laughter, and perhaps even a tear or two. We weren’t disappointed.
Prostate cancer really does take a back seat at these gatherings. Yes, there are the jokes about pee pads, ED injections, hormone treatment, and even a few references to pulling out a ruler (one guy suggested a yardstick!), but I never heard anything remotely resembling self-pity by the guys or their partners. Just didn’t happen.
I found it truly amazing that my husband and I, who had never met anyone gathered at Worried Guy’s house, could walk into the middle of such a gathering and be welcomed so warmly and with so much love. It was obvious from the moment we arrived that this group was family, and they welcomed us with open arms.
These gatherings are not pity parties. When we weren’t eating or drinking, we were talking about where we grew up, where we went to school, what we do for a living, places we’ve been and places we hope to visit. Sure there were discussions about how PCa has impacted our lives but no one there has allowed PCa to define who they are. The atmosphere is totally fluid and there are no cliques – you can walk up to a group of people who are discussing something and join in without feeling you are intruding. You can sit down next to someone you don’t know, and right away a conversation starts. It’s amazing how easy it is to fit in with this group.
As promised, the GFMPH gathering in Rochester was life-changing…more importantly, it was life-affirming. We got to meet so many interesting people from all walks of life, and we got to know so much more about them other than Gleason scores and PSA levels. This, in and of itself, was worth the trip.
If you’re thinking about attending a GFMPH gathering, good for you. I think you will find it to be a thoroughly positive experience. If you’re worried that your spouse/partner may not feel comfortable, put that thought out of your head…no one feels uncomfortable or out-of-place at a GFMPH gathering. No one is made to feel more or less important than anyone else there – everyone is included in everything and everyone is important. How often do we get to experience something like this in our lives?