Back to Boca - A look at the IMF's first Patient & Family Seminar in 2012
Last year, the IMF experienced a first at the Boca Raton Patient & Family Seminar. Part of the way through the Friday night dinner, Bob and Cindy Feltzin - longtime supporters of the IMF and leaders in the South Florida community - challenged the people in the audience to raise $10,000 toward myeloma research, which the Feltzin family would match with an additional $10,000. By the end of the night, more than 50 families had pledged a total of $40,000 for myeloma research. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, or so we thought.
Last April, Bob Feltzin lost his courageous battle against multiple myeloma. Going back to Boca Raton this year was a decision made in part because of the Feltzin family's strong connection to the local myeloma community. The weekend had been sold out for over a month, and our team arrived at the hotel prepared for the busy weekend ahead.
We invited Cindy Feltzin and her family to join us during the Friday night dinner, to honor their commitment and accomplishments, and to present Cindy with the first annual Bob Feltzin Award for Outstanding Service to the myeloma community. When Susie Novis announced that the Feltzin family had once again committed $10,000, and that we had already received an additional $11,000 in support for myeloma research, the crowd responded again in kind. We received almost $54,000 in support for myeloma research, exceeding last year's grand total by nearly $14,000!
Cindy came forward to accept the award, and against a backdrop of photographs supplied by her children, gave an elegant reprise of Bob's always-upbeat life with myeloma, and joint work with Cindy to educate and help the myeloma community in every way possible.
It was unplanned; it was emotional; it was powerful. Brian and Stephanie Feltzin followed their mother with equal elegance and emotional impact. A drained and exhausted family joined at the end to celebrate a new way forward. There WILL be a cure and we will work toward it together!
Saturday at the Patient & Family Seminar was a great day with a huge turnout. We will definitely need a bigger room next year to fit everybody in! Dr. Asher Chanan Khan led off, followed by Dr. Ken Anderson, who gave a wonderful overview of myeloma research and the status of new drug development. After a flood of questions, Dr. Anderson had to rush off to join the Kraft family in Indianapolis for the Superbowl. Ken holds the Kraft Chair at Harvard and the Patriots owner was obviously quite keen to see if his team would win the Superbowl!
Dr. Shaji Kumar from the Mayo Clinic and Dr. Bart Barlogie from the Myeloma Institute of Research Therapy followed with stellar presentations! Bart answered questions ranging from whether or not myeloma is currently being cured, to the value of Gene Expression Profiling (GEP). All the while patients were highly engaged with great questions. After lunch, I summarized the approach to bone disease, and Dr. Kumar joined me in the main ballroom for a general question and answer session while Susie ran the Caregivers breakout session in a separate room.
By the end of Saturday's sessions, we were all truly exhausted, but filled with an unparalleled sense of accomplishment. We met so many new people, caught up with some familiar faces, and left Boca Raton satisfied and with great hope for the future of myeloma research.
Dr. Brian G.M. Durie serves as Chairman of the International Myeloma Foundation and serves on its Scientific Advisory Board. Additionally, he is Chairman of the IMF's International Myeloma Working Group, a consortium of nearly 200 myeloma experts from around the world. Dr. Durie also leads the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®.