It is difficult to know where to start when trying to do a recap of my ASH experience. The whole experience is like a whirlwind of activities that start early in the morning and continue on until late in the evening. It is information overload between listening to world-renowned doctors and researchers discuss the many exciting new clinical trials and novel therapies and the pumping beat of energy that permeates every cell in your body when you hear the word myeloma and cure in the same sentence.
The president of ASH mentioned that over 26,000 people attended ASH this year. On myeloma alone, 855 abstracts were submitted. According to Dr. Brian Durie, 130 of them were new and significant. The interest in myeloma is huge! Rooms were overflowing with people interested in hearing the oral presentations. In one particular session I attended, it was stated that even Dr. Robert Kyle of Mayo Clinic was not able to get in. Overflow rooms were also filled to capacity, all while crowds of people stood outside waiting for a space to open up, so they too could enter the room and hear the presentation.
It was also interesting to me that a session was held on “The Rising Cost of Medical Care: Understanding the Problem and Exploring Solutions.” From my support group members, I often hear of the financial difficulties they encounter when trying to pay for their maintenance therapy. The cost of cancer treatment does impact the patient’s well-being in dealing with medical care. Higher co-pays increase the likelihood of non-adherence. This is a very complex topic, and while solutions were not resolved, I was at least glad to hear this issue being discussed.
One other thing that always stands out to me when listening to these brilliant doctors speak is their dedication and compassion for the myeloma patient. It leaves me with no doubt that a cure will be found in my lifetime.