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June 2003 Volume 5, Issue 6:
Dear Reader
By Susie Novis
President, International Myeloma Foundation
For those not involved with Myeloma, the name Little Rock Arkansas evokes memories – good or bad – of President Clinton. For those of us who live in the Myeloma world, it means one thing: Dr. Bart Barlogie and his team at the center there.

This issue of Myeloma Today is sponsored in part by an unrestricted educational grant from Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

Little Rock Arkansas: for those people not involved with Myeloma, the name Little Rock Arkansas evokes memories – good or bad – of President Clinton. For those of us who live in the Myeloma world, it means one thing: Dr. Bart Barlogie and his team at the center there.

I can remember the first time I heard about Dr. Bart Barlogie and the transplant center in Little Rock. It was when Brian Novis had just founded the IMF and then went to Arkansas to visit with Bart. Co-founders of the IMF, Dr. Brian Durie and Brian Novis, were friends with Bart and extended an invitation asking him to become a member of the IMF's Board of Directors.

Despite this long friendship with Bart, or Black Bart as he often refers to himself, I had never been to Little Rock — that is until last month when the IMF held its Patient & Family Seminar there. Going to Little Rock was quite an experience. It was a place I had heard about for years, since patients went there for a transplant or two or three and it had become legend – like going to Lourdes. But I had never been there.

The IMF, Dr. Durie, Lisa Paik, Spencer Howard, and I pulled into town and immediately met Mary Fritsch and Julie and Ruth McNeill, who were on the same shuttle bus. As is often the case among us IMFers, we began chatting, and it turned out that they were mother and daughters from Michigan attending their first seminar. Their 33-year-old son and brother had recently been diagnosed. Feeling both apprehensive and hopeful, they were embarking on a journey to learn what they could do, and needed to know how to help a loved one combat this disease.

The next morning we went for a tour of the center. I have to say it's incredibly impressive, not only for its state-of-the-art facilities but also because of its immensely dedicated staff. This is a finely tuned team and we were impressed.

Dr. Guido Tricot

We were honored to have an esteemed faculty present. An important beginning to a full day was provided by Dr. Brian Durie (Cedars-Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center, California), who commenced with a wonderful presentation of “What is Myeloma?” With over 80% of the participants attending this introductory session, we were off to a great start. The team from Little Rock, Dr. Bart Barlogie, Dr. John Shaughnessy, and Dr. Guido Tricot, did an excellent job of presenting their experience in treating myeloma with their "total therapy."

Dr. William Dalton, Dr. Gregory Mundy, and Dr. Brian Durie

Of note was Dr. Shaughnessy’s talk on the research he's doing in gene array technology, giving us a very promising look at what the future holds. Dr. William Dalton (H. Lee Moffit Cancer Center, Florida) gave a talk on conventional therapy that was informative and up-to-date. Dr. Greg Mundy (University of Texas Health Science Center), a frequent speaker at our seminars, spoke on bone disease, a field in which he is a renowned expert. Knowing what you can do to prevent bone disease is vital for both quality of life and better outcome.

Dr. John Shaughnessy, Jr.

Since 1996, the IMF has been awarding the Francesca Thompson Outstanding Service Award to individuals who “go above and beyond the call of duty.” It is named in memory of Francesca Thompson, who was a myeloma patient, physician, and founding Board member of the IMF. Dr. Thompson selflessly did so much to help the IMF help others, and it's in her honor that the IMF recognizes others who, like her, reach out and make a difference. Over the years we've recognized patients and family members. It was our honor and privilege for the first time to recognize a doctor for his outstanding work in helping myeloma patients. We were thrilled to present Dr. Bart Barlogie with the Francesca Thompson Award. On hand for the presentation was I. Dodd Wilson, Chancellor, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

I. Dodd Wilson, Bart Barlogie and Susie Novis

The Patient & Family Seminar was a huge success and I would like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to Bonnie Jenkins (Director of Program Coordination) and Janet Aronson (Administrator) for all their hard work in making the meeting a success and our trip to Little Rock a truly memorable experience.

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