By Laurene McKillop, PhD
Bright, warm sunshine greeted participants in the 11th National Conference on Hydrocephalus, as they walked for the cause on Sunday morning, June 20. It was a glorious end to a thrilling event. Where else can one have gone to see two brain surgeries performed live in two days? Over the coming week we’ll highlight some of the exciting moments and sessions of the conference right here on our blog.
The conference WALK culminated in Wade Oval, a grassy park surrounded by some of Cleveland’s most beautiful museums, as well as the Arboretum. There, weary walkers rested and cooled off, while a group of young researchers, funded by the Hydrocephalus Association, described their exciting and groundbreaking research. Following that, a panel of individuals with hydrocephalus, mediated by Dr. Mike Williams, member of the Hydrocephalus Association Medical Advisory Board, described some of the challenges they face as part of everyday life: dozens of surgeries, difficulty finding appropriate care, and the stress borne of never knowing when a shunt may fail.
Showing great insight into the underlying character of those living with hydrocephalus, Dr. Williams concluded the session by asking participants what positive impact they could attribute to living with hydrocephalus. Their answers were stunning.
“I have learned patience,” said one.
“I take one day at a time and appreciate it,” remarked another.
“I have learned not to fear,” said a third.
All of these admirable individuals agreed that they would willingly take part in a clinical trial, not so much because they expect a cure for themselves, but because they want to help future generations.
It is a rare gift to know that your work matters. And it is equally rare to know that you are sitting among the finest of the human species, enjoying the sun on a lovely Sunday morning. Yet that’s what each and every one of us got to share during our three days in Cleveland. I am grateful to you all.