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A Woman’s Journey marks its 13th year.

blank A woman's journey

Epiphanies, reunions—these happen every year at A Woman’s Journey.

Connie Hewitt, executive assistant to Richard “Chip” Davis, vice president of the Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care, volunteered last year at the event. When she stopped by cardiologist Rick Lange’s session, she glimpsed a list of 10 risk factors for heart disease on the wall. Nine of them applied to her. Shocked, she sought help to lose weight and control her blood pressure. “For the first time,” Hewitt says, “I was being honest with myself.”

The idea for A Woman’s Journey, which takes place Nov. 3 at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel, was sparked in 1995 by cancer survivors Mollye Block and Harriet Legum, who were looking for a way to help empower women to make more effective health care decisions for themselves and their families. Now each year Hopkins hosts nearly 1,000 participants who come to the conference from as many as 15 states.

Many people use the conference as a reunion of sorts, meeting up with friends and family. In fact, 78 percent of participants attend the conference with a friend or relative, says Leslie Waldman, director of competitive strategy for Hopkins Medicine, who organizes the event. Last year, a woman with breast cancer brought a busload of friends to celebrate her 50th birthday.

The conference is organized into 32 seminars, one-third of which are new each year. Topics are chosen largely on the basis of an electronic survey of the previous participants and range from caffeine to insomnia, from osteoporosis to breast cancer to three different takes on depression. Top picks so far are sessions on weight loss, power foods and the scientific basis for exercise. 

This year’s plenary speaker is Leslie Mancuso, Ph.D., president and CEO of JHPIEGO, an international health organization affiliated with Hopkins that works to improve health care conditions for women and families in 50 countries around the globe. Mancuso will discuss her experience leading the organization, traveling to war-torn countries and managing major crises, as well as her own battle with a rare retinal cancer.

The lunch speaker is Brittany Lietz, a former Miss Maryland and national skin cancer advocate for the American Academy of Dermatology, who will talk about her own experience with melanoma as a result of using tanning beds.

Organizers of A Woman’s Journey plan to expand its venues. On Jan. 24, 2008, a smaller version of the conference will be held in Palm Beach, Fla. The program follows the Dean’s symposium held the preceding evening in Palm Beach. Marianne Legato, adjunct professor of medicine, and Lillie Shockney, administrative director of the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center, will be the keynote speakers. 

As for Connie Hewitt, in the past year she has lost 40 pounds and significantly lowered her blood pressure. “If I hadn’t gone to that conference, I probably would have had a medical crisis,” she says. “A Woman’s Journey saved my life.”

—Maia Gottlieb

A Woman’s Journey

When: Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007, 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Where: Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel, 700 Aliceanna St.

Cost: $95 (10 percent discount for Hopkins employees)

Info: 410-955-8660, or Online registration available.



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