I'm off to Atlanta, site of this year's ASH conference. Through the IMF, I'll be blogging each night about the highlights that occurred earlier that day.
As background, I attended my first ASH meeting 7 yrs ago and found it a bit like being diagnosed with Myeloma (nearly 18 yrs ago). The terminology and amount of information was overwhelming, understandably though since the intended audience is 20,000 researchers and oncologists, presenting and learning the latest updates for blood cancers, including myeloma (MM). I loved learning whatever I could understand because I was energized by all the great research being done. I learned so much at that first meeting and haven't missed an ASH conference since.
I also learned to prepare a few weeks ahead of time, creating my personal agenda of talks I want to attend. These presentations will typically be on clinical trial results rather than lab studies because these are more meaningful to patients currently in treatment or soon to be diagnosed.
Officially ASH runs Sat Dec 8 - Tue morn Dec 11. Each day consists of:
- Exhibit Hall: Analogous to a trade show in Silicon Valley (my home) where pharmaceutical companies (nearly 300), medical suppliers, research & diagnostic companies, non-profits, and publications involved with blood cancers have a booth and provide product information. IMF has a booth where they interview MM experts for subsequent posting on their website.
- Posters Hall: Each day over a 1000 new 5' x 3' posters are hung displaying research projects from selected Abstracts with details of Background, Method, Patient Demographics (could be Mouse Models), Results for both Responses & Adverse Side Effects, and Conclusions.
- Oral Presentations: Nearly 1000 Abstracts are designated for oral presentations, typically 10 minutes of slides and 5 minutes q&a. Unfortunately, there are simultaneous presentations so no one can attend everything...thus the reason for working out your agenda before arriving at ASH.
Tomorrow (Friday), the day before the official start of ASH is designated as Symposium day, with Symposium sessions scheduled for 3-4 hrs in the morning, afternoon and evening. For example, the IMF symposium is tomorrow afternoon with a panel of Myeloma experts discussing various MM issues. While answers in these sessions cannot include information yet-to-be-released at ASH, it's always fascinating to see how MM experts have different opinions/recommendations to handle various patient case studies or posed questions for which there's no definite answer yet...welcome to the world of Myeloma. I'm sure some of those differences will also be heard at the IMF Monday night debate-Round 2. See the IMF website to listen live.
I'm with several other patients the IMF brought to ASH and together via blogging, facebook, and twitter, we hope to keep you well-informed from our individual patient perspectives. Of course, you'll have other vehicles to learn about ASH in the weeks that follow, including webinars, telephone conferences, seminars and more. Maybe your own oncologist will be at ASH. Take advantage of these resources and become your own best patient advocate.
Ready for 4.5 days of information.