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Learning at ASH How to Travel from Fear to Hope!

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YelakBiruBlog.pngNew Orleans, LA December 8, 2013--Continuing to give a Support Group Leader's perspective from the 55th Annual Meeting and Exposition of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in New Orleans... 
At the end of a long day when I got to the hotel on Friday night, Anderson Cooper's special "To Heaven and Back" was showing on CNN. Weather you believe in an "after life" or are religious, the message to me was don't let your situational fear control your actions. 
On Saturday evening on CNN Heroes, whether it is helping kids having to dodge bullets for the rest of their lives is their life, helping foster kids overcome the fear of loosing their only prized possession - a doll shared among foster sisters,  or verbally disarming a fearful gunman that can potentially kill dozens of kids, HERO after HERO was helping others overcome their fears. 
During a hosted lunch on Saturday, I had the opportunity of listening to Erik Wahl, a graffiti artist turned motivational speaker. Erik artistically walked everyone through the principle of why we can't be innovative operating from a position of fear, and how operational efficiency WILL NOT lead to innovative myeloma treatment approaches. 
He explained that you have to Focus, Commit and Adopt in order to transition from fear to hope.
YelakBlog1.jpgDuring Saturday night's International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) Brian D. Novis Senior & Junior Research Grant Awards Reception, Dr. Brian G.M. Durie, President and Co-Founder of the IMF, said the goal is to help patients and their families to transition from Fear to Hope
Jack Aiello, a 19-year myeloma patient who spreads and shares hope with others through his leadership of a support group and through international advocacy, shared his story of hope at the Awards Reception. Myeloma is a cancer on the move, according to Jack. In order to continue to have hope, patients need to stay on top of their choices. In this day and age where our world is connected and continually shrinking, there are many ways of being able to do that. 
What has impressed me most so far, among many things,  is the accessibility of these world-renowned doctors and researchers that have dedicated their life to myeloma. We were able to have a one-on-one discussion with Dr. Phillip McCarthy on the ASH exhibit halls, Dr. Kenneth C. Anderson and Dr. Robert Kyle  were able to attend and spend time with patients and support group leaders at the IMF Grant Reception. As always, Dr. Brian G.M. Durie is accessible not only through ASH-related events but, also through IMF's Hotline at 1.800.452.CURE (2873) or TheIMF@myeloma.org
One of the things I am observing evolve from year to year at these ASH conferences is increased collaboration by myeloma centers and doctors. This , I believe is driven by trust.  Trust in this highly connected and data-driven world, as Erik put it, is the currency of choice. 
More to come.
Sharing the Hope. 
Yelak from North Texas Myeloma Support Group

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