Visit to Genentech
I got to meet the people who work for the company where the medicine that keeps me alive is manufactured. How cool is that?!
Genentech is the biotech company that produces two of my maintenance medications, Herceptin and Perjeta. Click on the links if you want more information on the company and/or the medicines and what they do. I receive Herceptin and Perjeta via infusion once every three weeks. These medicines keep the cancer at bay. I will be on them for the rest of my life.
Genentech has a program called Patient Connect. I was a part of that this year. I flew out to San Francisco to visit the company and to talk to their employees about my experience with Perjeta. Over the course of three days, 12 patients, on different medications, were there to speak to the employees. My day was Friday. The day started at 7:15am when a car picked my husband and I up from the hotel to drive us to the campus. After a quick breakfast, it was make-up and wardrobe time. Yep. Make-up and wardrobe. These in anticipation of a photo shoot. A photo shoot! It was so much fun. What's going to happen with these photos? They're going to choose the best one, and make a banner with it. Throughout the campus (many buildings make up the offices of this company), there are banners with patient pictures on them. Some of these banners are three stories high. Here is an article talking about the banners and how it got started: Larger Than Life. More than one person who works there told me how inspiring it is to see the banners, to put a face to the medicine. They also told me how inspiring it is, and how great it is, when they get to meet patients face to face. I was so honored to have been there.
After the photo shoot, it was lunchtime, and time to get ready for my talk. I had asked to keep it relatively small, as this was my first ever time speaking to a group, other than students in a classroom. They capped my group at 60 people, and the room was full. People signed up to hear me talk! The topic I chose was "It Takes a Village". Here are some highlights on my talk: It Takes A Village. I hope that you all read it, and see yourself in it.
After I spoke, there were questions. One person asked me how I've changed, specifically my sense of humor. I talked about how I now have no filter (I speak my mind now; don't hold much back anymore), and my sense of humor has turned a bit dark. We talked a bit about how you really need to laugh about the bad times, or you'll cry and scream all the time. She said I seemed very funny, and reminded her of Melissa McCarthy. So, now Melissa McCarthy is part of my village (click on the link to my It Takes A Village post above to see what I mean about my village). One gentleman didn't ask a question, but wanted to let me know how they appreciated me being there, and how awesome it is for them to meet a patient who is on their medication. Surreal, it was. There were a few other questions and then it was over. A few people came up to me before they left. One lady told me that she'd been working there for 17 years, and was there when Perjeta went to the FDA for approval. It was really something meeting her. There was another very nice lady who is a fellow knitter. While I was speaking, I talked about knitting and how it is therapeutic, and she got it! We have since connected on Ravelry (knitting social media) and on Facebook. Again, surreal.
While we were in San Francisco, my husband and I were able to get in some sightseeing and other touristy stuff. We had Clam Chowder (him) and Lobster Bisque (me) in bread bowls at Fisherman's Wharf. We saw the famous sea lions on Pier 39. We took a dinner/sunset cruise; while circling Alcatraz Island and going under the Golden Gate Bridge we dined on filet mignon, and we danced. We took a daytime cruise on a small fishing boat around Alcatraz Island and under the Golden Gate Bridge. We walked on to the Golden Gate Bridge. We rode a cable car. The highlight of that ride was when we were stuck on a hill and the driver told everyone to get off and meet him on the other side of the street. We walked on the beach on the Pacific Ocean (we brought sand home). We didn't get to Lombard Street; we didn't get to the corner of Haight/Asbury Streets; we ran out of time. We'll put those places first on the list for next time. Simply put, we had an amazing time.
I hope I haven't forgotten anything. It was a whirlwind, amazing three days. I hope you enjoyed reading about it. I hope you enjoy looking at the photos we took as much as we enjoyed taking them. To see all of the photos, Facebook page (photos). I've split the photos from the trip into nine different albums.