2008 marked my third PPMD conference, my second in Philly with hubby Brian. I can't begin to share how impressed I was with the progress of the presentations. Each speaker seemed aware of what had been said the year before, and seemed focused on sharing where they hoped to be next year.

I'm amazed at how much of a family the PPMD community is. I didn't introduce myself to everyone to whom I nodded (a personality flaw I blame squarely on my father) but I feel a camaraderie with my PPMD peers that I share with no other group--we're inherently different in so many ways, yet identical in the most important ones.

Here are my key observations from Philly:

1. The eye is on the prize. To see so many pharmaceutical companies project timelines, and to see so many researchers nod slowed my heartbeat in the most profound way. The clock still ticks, but not the death-knell.

2. Nancy Neupauer rocks my socks!!!! I always admired my Aunts, but you, you kick a$$!!!! Tom is lucky to have you as his older sister!

3. The PPMD staff truly stops me. The "rocks my socks", which I totally stole from a girlfriend at work, applies to my friends but seems inadequate for the individuals who have changed my outlook on Nick's diagnosis. Not that I wouldn't have questioned or fought---but Pat, Kim, Ryan, Will, Sandra, Cecelia---you've made the fight and the purpose palpable. I'm a mom; the laundry basket is always full, the sink is full, the kids are hungry and *WHAT* is that bug on the stairs????, but you have focused me on what is most important, reminded me of the call, and though it's what you'd do anyway, I cannot thank you enough!

4. Kevin Smith. I remember our first meeting in the pre-dawn hours of 2005. Your dedication, passion, vision, and conviction have continued to inspire me and remind me of the importance to have Kleenex readily accessible when you speak. God bless you and Jackie and your children.

5. I love my husband. We've been dealt some crappy hands over the last ten years, but in the important stuff, he's there right with me. I can't imagine crying on another shoulder, and that's the blessing in it all. This year we parted ways at some breakout sessions, and seeing his return and sharing what we'd experienced (including my awesome buys at Macys) reminded me how blessed I am to have such a grounded partner in this with me.

6. Philly cab drivers rock!! Those of you who know me know that my love of wine supersedes just about everything but the fam! After the dinner and the bar Saturday night, Brian awoke on Sunday to not having satisfied his craving for the Pats or Genos Philly cheesesteak. So I, the hungover yet devoted spouse, suggested we go ahead and hail a cab a few hours shy of our flight to get a cheesesteak. Our cabbie said Pat's was best; that's where we went. AWESOME SANDWICH!!, and a cab pulled up as we finished, getting us back in plenty of time.

7. Kim. OMG. I bet I cried more than you during the video. You ROCK. And your kids are adorable. God bless.

8. Pat Furlong. I didn't talk to you once during the conference. I'm sure one of your daughters was with you (I thought I saw a resemblance during the run), but I didn't want to intrude when you were with someone else. You are sooooo amazing. Thank you.

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Comment by DeAnne Friar on August 8, 2008 at 10:20pm
I stink at getting back with these emails but reading your comments and blog make me more sorry than ever I missed the conference. Hopefully we can connect in person sometime here.

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