Thanks to my dexamethasone today, I’m writing this in the wee hours of Saturday morning, and the All-Virtual 62nd American Society of Hematology (ASH) Meeting and Exposition kicks off in and few hours. It will include many abstracts (research presentations) about the future of multiple myeloma treatments. But even before ASH begins, the International Myeloma Foundation’s (IMF) team has had the privilege to participate in the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) meeting and the IMF’s pre-ASH continuing education session. Both were so exciting to me because of the tremendous hope they generated and made me even more anxious to hear the complete abstracts!
The IMWG is a group organized by the IMF that includes 240+ of the world’s leading myeloma researchers. This group plays a key role in myeloma research by coordinating research efforts that are taking place around the globe. They also create and publish treatment guidelines that help our local hematologists stay abreast of the best treatment options for their patients. There are no egos; they are simply sharing data and working together for a cure. During Wednesday’s meeting, they highlighted some of the top abstracts that members of the group will be presenting and discussed their upcoming publications. This meeting is typically an-person breakfast meeting held in the pre-dawn hours of the first day of ASH, and I have been able to attend a few of those in the past. It is exciting to see the “rock stars” of myeloma in person and hear their discussions, but the virtual meeting offered an even better perspective to me of how this group truly challenges their members to bring forth the best possible research. The virtual format provided the opportunity to see the written chats, comments, and questions. This group has an amazing passion for bringing a cure to us. Their live discussion surrounding each abstract not only praised their colleague’s efforts, but also questioned them and offered valuable feedback on how their study could be expanding in the future. The virtual chats revealed to me the depth of their knowledge, their perspectives, and their drive to benefit myeloma patients.
On Friday afternoon, Dr. Brian G.M. Durie, IMF Chairman of the Board, led a symposium designed to offer information and continuing education credits to local hematologists. Dr. Durie and five other esteemed panelists from the U.S., France, and Spain led the 735 who participated in the entire three-hour session. It walked the participants through actual case studies on high-risk smoldering myeloma, individualized approaches to frontline treatment selection, managing patient with relapsed disease after ≥ 1 lines of therapy, understanding the different Anti-BCMA therapies. The session concluded with the panelists from around the globe discussing Future Directions and Key Studies from ASH 2020 and their treatment algorithm for myeloma. You can find the slides presented at Accelerating Toward Curing Myeloma: New Data, New Agents, and Evolving Treatment Paradigm | International Myeloma Foundation and look for video of the presentation to be posted soon at IMF at ASH 2020 | International Myeloma Foundation.
Besides the technical data, a few of my key takeaways from the session were that many positives are happening in the myeloma world. These findings re-energized the hope that helps propel me through my myeloma journey. It also emphasized how complicated your treatment decision process can be, so it is more important than ever that all myeloma patients have a relationship with a myeloma specialist. And, that being an educated patient can help you clearly express to your doctors what you want out of your treatments.
Be sure to check out my blogs and those of the entire patient team at IMF at ASH 2020 | International Myeloma Foundation and follow my tweets on Twitter.
Linda Huguelet, Chattanooga Multiple Myeloma Networking Group