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October 2003 Volume 5, Issue 8:
The IMF Visits Italy and France
Under the auspices of the IMF, IMF Scientific Advisors and distinguished Professors Mario Boccadoro and Jean-Luc Harousseau held the first ever IMF Patient & Family Seminars in their respective countries.
11.18.03
Barbara Schulz, Susie Novis, Dr. Jean-Luc Harousseau,
and Dr. Brian Durie at the Paris IMF Patient & Family Seminar

Under the auspices of the IMF, IMF Scientific Advisors and distinguished Professors Mario Boccadoro and Jean-Luc Harousseau held the first ever IMF Patient & Family Seminars in their respective countries. IMF President Susie Novis greeting over 200 people at the Torino meeting on September 12th, and over 130 in Paris on the 19th.

Because the concept of medical meetings for patients and their families is a novel one in France and Italy, the IMF received an enthusiastic response from both the patient and medical communities, and there was press coverage at both seminars. We were particularly touched when the medical director of the hospital in Torino addressed the audience, telling them that the seminar was more than a sharing of medical information; it was an important ethical and humanitarian step. The IMF, he said, had opened the pathway to better communication between all patients and their doctors in Italy.

IMF Hotline Coordinator Debbie Birns with
Dr. Marco Gobbi and Dr. Mario Boccadoro

The distinguished faculty in Italy, in addition to Dr. Boccadoro, included Dr. Brian Durie (ably translated by Dr. Bruno Benedetto, who studied for four years at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and now heads the allo transplant team in Torino), Dr. Marco Gobbi, Dr. Maria Petrucci, Dr. Patrizia Tosi, and Dr. Antonio Palumbo. Dr. Boccadoro and his able staff organized and publicized the seminar, which took place at the hospital of Saint John the Baptist. Dr. Boccadoro was interviewed on the TV news before the seminar because it was considered a revolutionary idea in Italy to conduct a medical meeting for cancer patients rather than cancer doctors. It is sometimes difficult not to take patient seminars for granted in the US. We have to remind ourselves that they were revolutionary here, too, when the IMF initiated the concept in 1993.

At the Paris seminar, the eloquent French faculty who joined Drs. Durie and Harousseau included Drs. Thierry Facon, X. Mariet and J.P. Fermand. On an extremely warm Friday without air conditioning, we were fortunate to be offered relief in the beautiful formal gardens behind the building, which were open to seminar attendees throughout the day. Even more beautiful was our special guest, the French actress Barbara Schulz, friend of the IMF and daughter of a cancer patient. Barbara most graciously interrupted her filming in the south of France to attend the seminar and lend support to the myeloma patients and their families. We owe very special thanks as well to Morgane Yvon, whose mother is a patient of Dr. Harousseau's. Morgane created a beautiful poster, publicized the seminar by mail and Internet, communicated with all the prospective attendees, and has sent each of them our newly updated French educational booklets.

A heartfelt grazie and merci to Celgene and Novartis, who helped make these ground-breaking seminars possible. We look forward to working again with Drs. Boccadoro and Harousseau on behalf of the wonderful patients in Italy and France, and hope that these two successful seminars were just the beginning.


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