In any scientific arena, progress is dependent upon the speed with which information about the latest developments is disseminated. This is particularly true in the field of medicine, where every step forward can represent many lives saved. It is in this spirit that I view the IMF's contribution to the field of myeloma in Russia.
The first IMF Clinical Conference in Russia took place in 2001. It was organized by Susie Novis of the IMF and Prof. Eleonora Podoltseva of St. Petersburg Hospital #31. The meeting featured an expert faculty: Dr. Brian Durie, Prof. Heinz Ludwig, and Dr. Mario Boccadoro. In addition to scientific presentations, the IMF visit included a review of patients in the transplant ward of Hospital #31. At that time, I was one of the myeloma patients hospitalized in that ward. After a consultation with Dr. Durie, I followed his invaluable recommendations and achieved a lengthy plateau.
Three years later, when my myeloma worsened, I once again consulted with Dr. Durie, this time at the Cedars-Sinai Cancer Center in Los Angeles, California. He recommended a therapy that was not being used in Russia—a combination of dexamethasone and thalidomide. I quickly responded to this treatment and my health improved.
Last summer, as I eagerly anticipated Dr. Durie's return to Russia for the second St. Petersburg IMF Clinical Conference, my lab tests once again showed an increase in the M-protein. I looked forward to consulting with Dr. Durie about my situation, as well as expanding my understanding of novel therapy options by participating in the conference.
The second St. Petersburg IMF Clinical Conference took place in September of 2005. The faculty featured Dr. Durie and his mentor, Dr. Robert Kyle of the Mayo Clinic. The day before the conference, both doctors made rounds at Hospital #31 transplant ward, and participated in patient consultations. Once again, I was one of the patients whose case was reviewed by the visiting experts and, as a result, I have high hopes for improved health and outlook.
The IMF Clinical Conference proved to be essential not only for the participating local doctors, but also for patients such as myself. I would like to commend Prof. Eleonora Podoltseva for doing such an excellent job coordinating the St. Petersburg conference, and extend special thanks to Drs. Durie and Kyle for their generosity of time and effort in educating Russian myeloma physicians.
I hope that the IMF will become a regular visitor to my country, because sharing experience and education helps our doctors improve their ability to diagnose and treat patients, and helps patients better understand their disease and to be empowered by this newly acquired knowledge.