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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Resiliency Key at HFA’s Symposium 2016

Jane Cavanaugh Smith (middle), with CoRe managers
I have known Laurie Kelley for more than 20 years and can’t begin to count the number of times I have looked to her for education, resources, and support.  So, it is such an honor to be a guest blogger for HemaBlog. My name is Jane Cavanaugh Smith and I am a Biogen Community Relations (CoRe) Manager. My son has hemophilia and we were fortunate to connect early with our local chapter. This led to an unexpected and extremely rewarding career with the New England Hemophilia Association, and later, the Hemophilia Federation of America (HFA). When Biogen introduced CoRe Managers several years ago, I watched with interest as their team grew. The fact that a CoRe Manager’s sole job is to support our community—to listen, educate, connect, advise, and serve–confirmed that Biogen was the place for me.

Jane speaking at HFA
At HFA’s Symposium 2016, held March 31 to April 2, the theme, “Together We Are Resilient” beautifully captured the strength of our community because resiliency is about bouncing back. Individuals and families have to regularly overcome obstacles, but sometimes the challenges are overwhelming. That’s when we turn to each other in the open, honest, and supportive environment that HFA provides. These connections live on long beyond the Symposium. 

“Together We Are Resilient” was carried through the conference in a variety of sessions and activities aimed to feed mind, body, and soul. Knowledge is power and key to weathering rocky times. Activities included daily Zumba sessions, aquatic therapy, yoga, and a Health & Wellness Lounge. Session topics included women’s issues, advocacy, insurance, treatments, and inhibitors. A few personal favorites include the Awards Luncheon, the Remembrance Ceremony, the rap sessions, seeing kids in matching shirts and holding hands, and all the hugs, tears, and laughs.

At Biogen, we took the theme to heart, too. Each day at HFA, we tried to provide families with new opportunities to meet, learn, and be resilient together. It was a blast. The Chapter Challenge games brought out altruism and humor as visitors tried to win donations for their local chapter. The Biogen Peer videos (click here, and hereshowcased inspiring role models. Many visitors inquired about our therapies, so it gave me and my fellow CoRe Managers countless opportunities to get to know even more people in the hemophilia community. I like to think that resilient people see meaning and purpose in what they do. I definitely see that in my fellow CoRes. We build resilience by showing our vulnerability, empathy, understanding, and appreciation, and gratitude for each other.

Jane interviewing Chris Bombardier
I was also honored to emcee Biogen’s Friday dinner program, Food for Thought. I’ve never spoken in front of a large crowd, but I knew that I was surrounded by friends. Our keynote speaker, Chris Bombardier, shared his inspiring story of overcoming challenges despite long odds. Chris has severe hemophilia B but is on a quest to climb the world’s seven summits. Hearing his motivation and drive, he will surely complete the remaining two. 

Biogen “gets it.” They celebrated the power of positive thinking to inspire our community. As the program came to a close, I looked over at my son who is the source of my strength and hope. I am deeply thankful for this community. Together we celebrate the highs and find comfort during lows. Together we are resilient.

Biogen's CoRe managers at HFA
To find a Biogen CoRe Manager near you, visit

This blog was sponsored by Biogen for educational purposes.

HEM-US-1012   04/16

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