Here are some answers to the most common questions we get about Survivor Conference.
YACC has been hosting Survivor Conference since 2007. The conference brings together a group of people who “get it” to connect and learn things that can help them live with, through, or beyond the cancer experience. Through the conference, we want to give you information to regain some of the control you may have lost—or felt like you lost—while dealing with cancer, help you move forward, and to feel supported while doing it. We do this through keynote speakers, workshops, intentional social interactions, and free time.
We know it can be daunting to choose to get on a plane, fly to the middle 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 off, know that you are not alone in these feelings. Typically, half of each year’s registrations are from first-time participants like you!
Secondly, 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 the conference is to join and participate in our private Facebook group. It is a great place to “meet” people before the event. While we know it is a digital relationship at first, once you meet at the SC 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 ([email protected]) 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.
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 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.
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 take some time to relax.
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.
Yes. About two weeks before the conference, we will connect with you to ask you to select various workshops and sessions. Your schedule is built based on availability, but we do our very best to get you into your first choices whenever possible.
Once you register, please make sure you received an automatic email from us notifying you that we received your application. If you do not receive this email, connect with Lesley as your application may not have been submitted correctly.
The $199 registration fee helps offset some of the costs of food and accommodations from Thursday night to Monday morning, as well as a wide variety of workshops on topics that are relevant to you.
We never want finances to be the only barrier to attendance. If you need help covering this cost, discuss it with us.
We never want finances to be the only reason someone does not attend our events and we have various financial assistance options available. There is a section on the registration form to indicate whether or not you want more information on financial assistance, and Lesley ([email protected]) will connect with you directly to determine the options that work best for you.
YACC will arrange your accommodations for the duration of the conference with check in on Thursday, May 16 and check out on Monday, May 20. 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 or stay late in St. Catharines, ON, 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 Holiday Inn St. Catharines, let Lesley know your dates and she can book it for you (you will still need to pay, but we can ensure the room is there). The hotel is offering a group rate for our conference attendees of $155 (plus taxes & fees) per night.
All participants must be at the hotel (Holiday Inn St. Catharines, 327 Ontario St. St. Catharines) and registered with YACC staff by 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 16, 2019. The program will start promptly at 5 p.m., so you will need to be ready. Conference registration will take place from 2-4 p.m. at the hotel.
Yes. YACC is arranging coach buses for those who need transportation between Toronto and St. Catharines. If you need transportation to the hotel, you can catch a bus with YACC from Pearson International Airport. You will need to check in with YACC staff by 1:15 p.m. on Thursday, May 16 as the buses will be leaving at 1:30 p.m. sharp.
The bus will return you to Pearson International Airport on Monday, May. 20, 2019. If you are booking a return flight on Monday, please ensure you do not book it before 1 p.m.
To help offset some of the costs of this busing, there is a $10 fee to reserve your seat on the bus.
Seats must be reserved by May 1, 2019. Please contact [email protected] and she will send you all of the details.
If you are from Toronto or are staying in the city before the event and you want to catch the YACC shuttle to St. Catharines, you will also need to make your way to Pearson before 1 p.m. There are many different ways to get to the airport, but we recommend the UP Express which takes a direct route from the airport to a couple of stations in the city. It’s under $6, runs every 15 minutes, and takes about 25 minutes to get to the airport.
If you are flying into Hamilton or another regional airport, you will have to arrange your own transportation. St. Catharines is serviced by VIA Rail and there is also a bus terminal near the hotel (both are within 2 km of the hotel).
If you are flying, you will book your own flight to Toronto (see information above on dates and times of booking). Then you send Lesley ([email protected]) a copy of the itinerary/receipt. We will then send you a cheque which will account for 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 within the flying section.
Yes, if you are planning on traveling to St. Catharines with YACC you must fly into Pearson International Airport (YYZ). If you are taking YACC’s buses from Toronto, you must ensure your flight arrives before 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 16. The buses are leaving Pearson at 1:30 p.m. SHARP.
Please do not book your return trip until after 1 p.m. on Monday, May 20. The bus will drop you off at Pearson.
If you are arranging your own transportation to St. Catharines, all participants must be at the hotel and registered with YACC staff by 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 16, 2019. The program will start promptly at 5 p.m. so you will need to be ready. YACC registration will take place from 2-4 p.m. at the hotel. Once you have your travel booked, please send Lesley your itinerary.
If you live in/near St. Catharines, 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 know that 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 those elements that happen outside of “schedule,” and many past participants who have gone home in the evenings, told us afterwards that they wish they would have stayed at the hotel.
YACC will provide your meals from dinner Thursday evening to breakfast Monday morning. We provide breakfast, lunch, supper and one snack throughout the day for the duration of the conference. 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.
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 ([email protected]) if necessary.
We know that 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 March 29, 2019. We will look at options of anyone who needs to cancel after this date 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 [email protected] as early as possible. We always have a waitlist for this event, so we want to give those participants as much notice as possible so they can plan their trip.
Yes. We encourage you to bring a supporter (who also fits within the criteria of being 18-39 years of age. If your closest supporter is older than 39, please connect with Lesley and we will discuss options).
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.
There will be two people in each 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.
Currently our Survivor Conference is not set up so that 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 the Survivor Conference and have had a waitlist of people who we couldn’t fit in. If participants left for parts of the conference, it would mean their seat would be empty which could have been filled by someone on the waitlist.
We have also heard from some people 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 stayed for the full event.
Each province and personal insurance is different. Please make sure you consult with your provincial body and/or personal insurance to determine what you would need when travelling outside of province. Also, do not forget to bring along your medical card, insurance cards, and photo IDs.
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. The Expansion Pack can help with these additional costs. Any money you raise above and beyond what you need will go towards helping another participant pay for their travel.
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, and anything else that you can chill out in and be comfortable.
Everyone has specific needs/preferences, but here is a guideline you can use when planning your trip:
- Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.). The rooms should have complimentary shampoo and soap, but if you are like me, you prefer your own products.
- Hair dryer (if you want your own, but there are some in each bathroom)
- Sporty footwear/hiking boots (for outdoor activities)
- Raincoat (weather can be unpredictable, it is better to be prepared)
- Sunscreen & sunglasses
- Any necessary medications
- Any special snacks you would like to bring
- Some pocket money
- Any other personal items you may wish to bring along (i.e. tablets, phone chargers, games, etc.)
- Earplugs, if snoring might bother you
- A yoga mat, if you have one
- Personal journal (there may be some writing exercises you will want to participate in)
Of course. We have factored “free time” into each day. Sometimes it will be in the daytime, sometimes in the evening. This is time in which we encourage you to meet and chat with your fellow participants.
Yes. We are excited to have our Social Committee back again this year. This is a group of conference alumni that are involved in YACC and know how to have a good time. The activities have not been chosen yet, but here’s what they have done in the past:
- Games night at the hotel
- Pub night
- Brewery tour
- Karaoke night
- Daytime shopping, etc.
These activities are separate from the conference programming and any additional fees/costs are to be covered by individual participants. 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.
St. Catharines: Local sites and attractions
We are so happy to be bringing our conference to St. Catharines for the very first time! Whether you are staying a few extra days, or you want to explore during your conference free time, these tips and ideas should give you some great ideas to help make your stay in the area a little better.
The conference is being held at the Holiday Inn St. Catharines (327 Ontario St., St. Catharines, ON). The following amenities are located at the hotel:
- Indoor pool, hot tub, steam sauna, and fitness room
- Onsite restaurants
- Parkway Lanes Arcade Sports & Entertainment Centre
- Free Wifi
- Coin operated laundry room
- Free parking for locals
- Wheelchair accessible rooms (if you require a room like this please let Lesley know as soon as you can)
In the Area:
St. Catharines is full of fun and activities! The hotel lists many of these on its website and there are many more to discover. St. Catharines is also only 20 min from Niagara Falls where there are an unlimited number of fun activities.
St. Catharines is served by Via Rail. There is a train station located near downtown and it is approximately 2 km from the hotel. There is also a bus terminal located on Carlisle Street that is approx. 2 km from the hotel as well.