Survivor Conference 2018 FAQs

April 5, 2018

Here are some answers to some of the most common questions we get about our Survivor Conference.

  1. What is Survivor Conference?
  2. What should I do if am nervous about flying across the country to meet a group of people I do not know?
  3. I have never been to a “cancer conference” before. Will I have to participate in support group sessions where emotions may run high?
  4. My abilities change day to day. Will I be able to change my program choices based on my abilities that day?
  5. Do I have any choice over the workshops/program elements I participate in?
  6. I read somewhere that we would be “climbing” Signal Hill during the conference. What is the Climb? I have some concerns about my ability to get to the top. Please tell me more.
  7. Where and when is the 2018 Survivor Conference?
  8. How do I register for Survivor Conference?
  9. What does the registration fee cover?
  10. I cannot afford the registration fee and/or my travel to Newfoundland. Is there anything YACC can do to help?
  11. Do I need to book my own accommodations? What is the cost of these accommodations? What about additional days (I may decide to come early or stay a few days later)?
  12. I am planning to book my flight; is there anything I need to know?
  13. Once I get to the airport, how do I get to the hotel?
  14. I am receiving financial assistance to help with my travel; how do I go about booking my travel?
  15. I am from the St. John’s area; do I stay at the hotel too?
  16. How does the food situation work at the hotel?
  17. I require special assistance or have dietary restrictions; whom do I contact?
  18. What happens if I am registered and then I need to cancel?
  19. Am I allowed to bring a supporter with me?
  20. How many people are in each room? Can we choose our roommates?
  21. I might have other commitments during the weekend of the conference; am I able to come and go as necessary over the weekend?
  22. What insurance/medical travel insurance do I need?
  23. I am fundraising to offset the cost of my travel. What happens to the money I raise if it is more than I need?
  24. What is the dress code for the conference?
  25. What should I pack?
  26. I am excited for the speakers and workshops, but I also want to connect with my cancer buddies. Will there be time for that?
  27. I am coming alone. Are there any planned activities I can join?
  28. Can you tell me more about the conference hotel?
  29. What is in the area of the hotel?
  30. How can I get around?
  31. What can we expect from the weather?
  32. What are some fun local attractions?
  33. My question is not listed; who do I contact for more details?

What is Survivor Conference?

YACC has been offering our Survivor Conference since 2007. The conference brings together a group of people who know what it’s like to face cancer as young adults to connect and learn things that can help them move forward or beyond the cancer experience. Through the conference, we want to give you information that you can use to regain some of the control you may have lost — or felt like you lost — while dealing with cancer, and help you move forward and to feel supported while doing it. We do this through keynote speakers, workshops, intentional social interactions, and free time.

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What should I do if am nervous about flying across the country to meet a group of people I do not know?

We know it can be daunting to choose to get on a plane, fly to the end of the country, and meet up with a bunch of people you do not know to participate in (quite likely your first ever) “cancer conference.” First, know that you are not alone in these feelings. Typically, each year our Survivor Conference is about half filled with “newbies” (people who have never been to a conference before), so you will likely be in the majority.

Secondly, know that our staff are trained professionals. We have been offering successful, life-changing, face-to-face programming since 2005. Believe me, you are in good hands.

One thing you can do before you get to St. John’s is to join (if you haven’t already) and participate in our private Facebook group. It is a great place to “meet” people before the event. Once you meet in NL, you will feel like you have been friends forever.

If you are not a part of this group, and you would like to be, just connect with Lesley (lesley@youngadultcancer.ca) and she will make sure you get hooked up. If you are not on Facebook, but still want to connect with someone attending the conference, let Lesley know and she can connect you to another participant via email.

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I have never been to a “cancer conference” before. Will I have to participate in support group sessions where emotions may run high?

The simple answer is “no.” You don’t have to participate in anything you are not comfortable with. However, the vibe of YACC’s Survivor Conference is not your typically “support group” format. We mostly offer keynote speakers, workshops, panels and lots of free/fun time. If, however, your emotions do run a little high, don’t worry. We have trained professionals onsite that you can connect with.

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My abilities change day to day. Will I be able to change my program choices based on my abilities that day?

We absolutely want you to have the best experience possible at the conference. If you are not feeling up to participating in the free time activities or evening activities, please feel free to take some relaxation time. If you are feeling better than ever, we hope you will take in everything you can.

We do encourage you to attend all of the group presentations and workshops, however if you are unable to do so, please let a staff member or your roommate know so no one is worried.

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Do I have any choice over the workshops/program elements I participate in?

Yes. About two weeks before the conference, we will connect with you to ask you to select various workshops/sessions. These are based on availability, but we do our very best to get you into your first choice whenever possible.

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I read somewhere that we would be “climbing” Signal Hill during the conference. What is the Climb? I have some concerns about my ability to get to the top. Please tell me more.

To make a somewhat short answer long, I will give you a little background on the Climb. In 1999, Geoff Eaton (YACC’s founder) returned home from the hospital after his first acute myeloid leukemia diagnosis, and the experience left him unable to support himself enough to walk. Shortly thereafter, he made the long, triumphant walk to the couch from the rental hospital bed he was confined to in his living room. (Read more)

In 2000, he celebrated those “first steps” by climbing Signal Hill in St. John’s, NL with nearly 200 of his closest family, friends, and supporters who had been following along with his “RealTime Cancer” email updates. Over the next few years, the annual event grew to see nearly 1000 people heading up the hill with him. This changed in 2009 when we merged the Climb with our annual Survivor Conference and saw how powerful it was to face that kind of a challenge with young adult cancer patients/survivors and their supporters. Since 2009 we have all climbed Signal Hill together at the Conference. It is one of the most powerful experiences we will share together.

On the physical side, to climb up and down Signal Hill typically takes about 45 minutes (35 to go up and less than 20 to get back down if you do not stop at the top). We take our time and walk up the road (sidewalk) so you don’t need to worry about scaling the NL cliffs! We meet at the top, get a group picture, and take a few min to walk around the site before heading back down the hill. For those who are unable to make the climb up, we will have a car or two onsite and we can drive you up so you will not miss out on the power at the top of the hill!

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Where and when is the 2018 Survivor Conference?

The 2018 Survivor Conference is happening in St. John’s, Newfoundland from June 14-18, 2018. The Comfort Inn Airport is hosting us for this year’s conference.

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How do I register for Survivor Conference?

You can register online by clicking here. If you have any trouble with this, please email Lesley@youngadultcancer.ca.

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What does the registration fee cover?

The registration fee helps to offset some of the costs of food and accommodations from Thursday night to Monday morning (departure on Monday before breakfast), as well as a wide variety of workshops on topics that are relevant to you. *Note: we never want finances to be the only barrier to attendance. If you need help covering this cost, discuss it with us.

 

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I cannot afford the registration fee and/or my travel to Newfoundland. Is there anything YACC can do to help?

We never want finances to be the only reason someone does not attend our events. We have various financial assistance options available. When applying just indicate you are interested in more info in the appropriate area, and Lesley (lesley@youngadultcancer.ca) will connect with you directly on the options that work best for you.

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Do I need to book my own accommodations? What is the cost of these accommodations? What about additional days (I may decide to come early or stay a few days later)?

We will have your rooms reserved for the duration of the conference (checking in: Thursday, June 14; checking out: Monday, June 18). Once you register with YACC, and are confirmed, we will take care of the booking and the room fees.

However, if you want to come early/stay late in St. John’s, you will need to arrange (and pay) for that yourself. Please be sure to make your own arrangements for any additional days. If you want to stay at the same hotel, you can contact them directly at the Comfort Inn. The hotel is offering a group rate for our conference attendees of $119.00 (plus taxes & fees) per night.

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I am planning to book my flight; is there anything I need to know?

Yes, if you are flying, you will fly into St. John’s International Airport (YYT). If you are driving to the hotel, there is free outdoor parking.

For the purposes of booking your travel, all participants must be in St. John’s, checked in at the hotel and registered with YACC staff by 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 14, 2017. The event will start promptly at 5 p.m. so you will need to be ready. YACC registration will take place from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the hotel. You can book a return flight any time on Monday, June 18, 2017.

When booking your flight, also keep in mind that June in NL usually brings a lot of fog. This is no joke – flights are often delayed, so if you have some flexibility in your travel schedule, we suggest you do not book the last flight in the day so you have options just in case your flight is cancelled.

We also suggest that you book your flight as soon as possible because flights get more expensive as they get closer to the date of travel. St. John’s is on an island and therefore can be a little more challenging to arrange flights that work with your schedule. The sooner you book, the better your options and costs will be. Once you have your travel booked, please send your itinerary to Lesley (lesley@youngadultcancer.ca).

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Once I get to the airport, how do I get to the hotel?

The Comfort Inn Airport has a free Airport Shuttle (24 hrs a day); you can request this at the airport visitor information center (at arrivals) or call 753-3500 ext 1. Unfortunately, this shuttle is not wheelchair accessible. For individuals who require the use of a wheelchair, you will need to contact the Go Bus, or get a taxi outside the airport. Newfound Cabs has accessible vans.

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I am receiving financial assistance to help with my travel; how do I go about booking my travel?

If you are flying, you will book your own flight to St. John’s (see information above on dates and times of booking). Then you send Lesley (lesley@youngadultcancer.ca) a copy of the itinerary/receipt. We will then send you a cheque which will include your allocated travel assistance and/or any additional money you may have fundraised.

If you are driving, taking a train or a bus, etc. you must keep your receipts (gas, ticket, mileage, etc.) and send them to us after the conference. We will then reimburse you for the travel amounts based on the same travel assistance criteria mentioned above.

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I am from the St. John’s area; do I stay at the hotel too?

If you live in St. John’s (metro), we do have rooms allocated for you. However, if for logistical or personal reasons you would need to go home at the end of the night, please let us know and we can make arrangements.

If you do decide to go home at the end of the night, please note the Conference is as much a time to get relevant information and practical tools as it is a time to meet survivors, bond, and help each other. YACC is about reducing the feelings of isolation and connecting people who “get it,” so experiencing the full conference is critical, even the elements that happen outside of “scheduled” time. For those of you wondering, many past participants who have gone home in the evenings told us afterwards that they wish they would have stayed at the hotel.

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How does the food situation work at the hotel?

YACC will be covering your meals from Thursday evening to (and including) Sunday’s banquet. We provide breakfast, lunch, supper, and one snack throughout the day. If you need more food to get you through the day, please come prepared. Please bring any special foods you need that you feel we may not have available.

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I require special assistance or have dietary restrictions; whom do I contact?

There is a section on the online registration form where you can list any special needs. We will then work with the hotel to ensure your dietary restrictions or any physical restrictions are met. You can also email Lesley Morrissey (lesley@youngadultcancer.ca) if necessary.

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What happens if I am registered and then I need to cancel?

We know many things can happen between the time you register and the time you check-in at the Conference. You will receive a full refund if you need to cancel before May 9, 2018. We will look at options of anyone who needs to cancel after May 9, 2018 for the following reasons:

  • Health issues
  • Death in the family
  • Family emergency

If you are registered and you need to cancel due to personal reasons, you must email Lesley@youngadultcancer.ca as early as possible. We always have a waitlist for this event, so we want to give those individuals as much notice as possible so they can plan their trip with enough time.

 

 

 

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Am I allowed to bring a supporter with me?

Yes. We encourage you to bring a supporter (they must also fit within the criteria of being 18-39* years of age). When trying to decide on this supporter, please ensure it is someone you are completely comfortable with. Topics such as sex, relationships, fears, etc. may come up, and you want to make sure you are with someone that you are comfortable sharing these experiences with. A sibling, a best friend, or a romantic partner are all great choices.

Also, while we know some of you may have great relationships with your parents, not everyone does, and some topics may make participants uncomfortable to discuss in front of a parental figure, so we do not allow parents to attend as your supporter. If you do want to bring a supporter with you, they must also register before being confirmed.

[*Note: if your closest supporter is older than 39, please connect with Lesley and we will discuss options]

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How many people are in each room? Can we choose our roommates?

There will be two people to a room. If you are bringing a supporter, we will make sure you are able to room with them, unless you ask otherwise. For those of you coming on your own, you can request to share a room with another survivor if you know someone else who is coming. Otherwise, we try to match roommates based on gender, age, and diagnosis.

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I might have other commitments during the weekend of the conference; am I able to come and go as necessary over the weekend?

Survivor Conference is not currently set up so people can come and go; it’s designed for participants to attend the whole conference.

Over the past couple of years, we have had an overwhelming amount of interest in Survivor Conference and have had a waitlist of people who we are unfortunately not able to fit in. If participants were to leave for parts of the conference, it would mean an empty seat that may have been filled by someone on the waitlist who could have attended the whole event.

We have also been told by individuals who did come and go in the past that the experience was not all it could have been for them, and they wished they had made the decision to stay for the full event.

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What insurance/medical travel insurance do I need?

Each province and personal insurance company is different. Please make sure you consult with your provincial body and/or personal insurance rep to determine what you would need when travelling outside of your province. Also, do not forget to bring along your medical card, insurance cards, and photo IDs.

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I am fundraising to offset the cost of my travel. What happens to the money I raise if it is more than I need?

Any extra money raised by conference participants goes directly into the Expansion Pack. While YACC does have a small budget for travel assistance, it cannot cover all of the financial needs for everyone travelling to the event. Any money you raise above and beyond what you need, will go towards helping another participant pay for their travel.

 

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What is the dress code for the conference?

We want you to be comfortable. No three-piece-suits are necessary for a YACC Conference. Feel free to wear your “Saturday best,” such as your jeans and sneakers/jogging pants and flip-flops/anything else that you can chill out in and be comfortable.

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What should I pack?

Everyone has specific needs/preferences, but here is a guideline you can use when planning your trip:

  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.). Shampoo and soap will be provided, but if you are like me and prefer your own products, bring them with you.
  • Hair dryer (if you want your own, but they have some in each bathroom)
  • Sporty footwear/hiking boots (for outdoor activities. We will be going on a Climb up Signal Hill, so you will want comfy clothes. For more info on the Climb please see the Program section of this FAQ)
  • Raincoat (weather is always unpredictable in NL, esp this time of year). We would also recommend a raincoat over an umbrella. The wind in St. John’s can regularly be anywhere from 60-100 km/hr in strength, and an umbrella could turn you in to Mary Poppins.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Any necessary medications
  • Any special snacks you would like to bring
  • Some pocket money
  • Any other personal items you may wish to bring along (eg. tablets, phone chargers, games, etc.)
  • Earplugs (if snoring might bother you)
  • A yoga mat, if you have one
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I am excited for the speakers and workshops, but I also want to connect with my cancer buddies. Will there be time for that?

Of course. We have factored free time into each day. Sometimes it will be in the day time, sometimes in the evening. This is time in which we encourage you to meet and chat with your fellow participants.

 

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I am coming alone. Are there any planned activities I can join?

Yes. We are excited to have our social committee back again this year. This is a group of SC alumni that are involved in YACC and know how to have a good time. They are working on various options for you to participate in during your free time. The activities for the 2018 conference have not been chosen yet, but some past examples are a game night at the hotel, pub night on George Street, brewery tour, karaoke night, daytime shopping downtown, etc. It should be noted here, however, that these activities are separate from the conference program, so you will have to cover any additional fees/costs. We will announce the events in the weeks before the event and you will be able to pre-select what you would like to do.

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Can you tell me more about the conference hotel?

The Conference is being held at the Comfort Inn Airport (106 Airport Road). The following amenities are located at the hotel:

  • Free wifi
  • Free airport shuttle (24 hrs a day); you can request this at the airport Visitor Information Center (at arrivals) or call 753-3500 ext 1. Unfortunately, this shuttle is not wheelchair accessible. For individuals who require the use of a wheelchair you will need to contact the Go Bus, or get a taxi outside the airport.
  • Free parking for guests
  • Fitness center (is it not huge, but you can manage a small workout)
  • Clancy’s Kitchen and Bar
  • Wheelchair accessible rooms (if you require an accessible room, please let Lesley know as soon as you can.)
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What is in the area of the hotel?

The Comfort Inn Airport is located near the St. John’s International Airport. Stavanger Drive is a local shopping district near the hotel that has restaurants and shopping, and it is approximately a five-minute drive ($15 cab*) or 40-minute walk. [*Note: all cab prices listed in this document are estimates based on advice from a local cab company. Prices may vary.]

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How can I get around?

Taxis: Below are the phone numbers of some local cab companies:

  • City Wide: 722-7777
  • Jiffy: 722-2222
  • Newfound Cabs: 744-4444

Bus: The Metro Bus services the St. John’s area.

GoBus Accessible Transit: The St. John’s-area para-transit system. Its mandate is to provide persons with disabilities and those who are unable to access conventional transit equal access to a transportation system. For more information on the GoBus please call: 754-2489.

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What can we expect from the weather?

The weather in Newfoundland is VERY unpredictable. One must prepare for four seasons in one day!  For mid June, it is best to travel with warm layers (temps can range between 5-15 degrees at this time of year) and prepare for rain. Keep an eye on the forecasts, but don’t place any bets on them as they can — and do — change quite quickly.

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What are some fun local attractions?

If you are planning on spending some additional time in our beautiful city/province, you should check out the following tourism sites. They are very user-friendly and can be a big help in helping you plan your trip (Please note we will be exploring the following locations with you throughout the Conference: Signal Hill; Cape Spear; Downtown (day time):

NL Tourism

Destination St. John’s

Middle Cove Beach: If you want to see a “traditional” Newfoundland beach, Middle Cove Beach isn’t far from the city. It is about a 12-minute drive ($25 cab) from the hotel.

Downtown St. John’s: Downtown St. John’s isn’t just about  George Street (which is also fun!), but there are loads of traditional shops, restaurants, and more! The west end of downtown is about a 15-minute drive ($20 by cab) and the east end is about a 12-minute drive ($15 cab) from the hotel.

Avalon Mall: The Avalon Mall is the largest local shopping mall in St. John’s and is located approximately an 11-minute drive ($30 cab) from the hotel.

The Rooms: The Rooms is Newfoundland and Labrador’s museum and archives. The building itself is worth checking out, and the exhibits focus on a traditional Newfoundland and Labrador way of life. It is located approximately a 10-minute drive ($15 cab) from the hotel.

Ocean Science Center: Memorial University’s Ocean Sciences Centre is a major facility for marine research on the Atlantic coast. Dedicated to raising public awareness in marine sciences, the Centre opens its doors each June to the public, inviting visitors of all ages to experience the popular touch tank, harp seals, and much more. The Ocean Science Center is about a 10-minute drive from the hotel ($15 cab).

Johnson Geo Centre: The Johnson GEO CENTRE is a geological interpretation centre located on Signal Hill. It is about a 13-minute drive from the hotel ($18 cab).

Boat tour (St. John’s Harbour): Downtown St. John’s, approximately a 12-15 minute drive from the hotel ($20 cab). Check out Iceberg Quest or Dee Jay Charters.

Boat tour (away from the city): If you have a little more time and have the means to venture a little further from the city, we would recommend doing a boat tour with Captain Wayne. Captain Wayne is located in Bay Bulls (a 25-30-minute drive from St. John’s). Tell him you are a friend of Karine and he will make sure you have lots of fun on your venture!

Quidi Vidi Brewery: QV is a Newfoundland-based independent brewing company focused on producing world-class quality beers for the mainstream, specialty, and now the premium segment of the beer market. Quidi Vidi is about a 10-minute drive ($20 cab) from the hotel. Quidi Vidi Village is also a great place to see coastal Newfoundland. It is quaint and friendly — a great way to spend an afternoon!

Jack Axes: This is the “famous” Jack Axes Jason Momoa introduced to the late night talk show circuit. It is located on the east end of downtown St. John’s, approximately a 10-minute drive ($15 cab) from the hotel.

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My question is not listed; who do I contact for more details?

Please contact Lesley Morrissey, community engagement manager, at lesley@youngadultcancer.ca or via phone (709) 700-1977.

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