I find it hard to believe it’s December, let alone The 62nd American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting (ASH). I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) and their sponsors for the opportunity to attend as part of the IMF ASH Team.
I think we can all agree that 2020 has been an unprecedented year. Like so many of us, I’ve been confined to my home since March. During the last 8-9 months, I’ve been fortunate to remain in fairly good health, with limited exposure to a small circle of family. During this time, I managed to arrange and organize many years of photos which sparked a deep reflection on my life lived, family and friends. That experience as well as the COVID pandemic, caused me to refocus on life in a way that even a cancer diagnosis didn’t. I’ve had 8 months of quiet time to reminisce past years and redefine thoughts on future years. It’s hard not to think about the lives lost to COVID-19. Those of us with cancer have been particularly cautious and vigilant this year. In many ways, we’ve been guarded since adjusting to life with cancer, but the world around us now better understands why we hug less, wash our hands incessantly, and traveled with masks long before COVID. It is my hope that we can all regain a sense of normalcy in 2021.
2020 hasn’t been all bad! As I shared last year, every year living with myeloma marks new milestones. November was my 7th year being diagnosed with myeloma; better said, I’ve been alive for 7 years after being diagnosed with myeloma. This year, I also celebrated my 6-year re-birth, 31st wedding anniversary, 53rd birthday, and another year of amazing memories with my children. So, despite the difficulties of 2020, I am thankful.
This year at ASH will be different. ASH2020 will be virtual, conformed to the unprecedented year of 2020. I believe a few of the most notable differences will be missing the crowd size and the marathon sprints from one conference hall to another between sessions. I will miss attending meetings with the ASH Team, as I learn so much from the group and rely on them in so many ways. However, I’m sure we’ll develop a way to uniquely connect ASH-style. In addition to the excitement of hearing the new cutting-edge treatments and standard of care for myeloma, I am anxious to learn of the advances with MRD negative testing for treatment guidance. I am also interested in learning more about BiTE (Bi-specific T-cell Engagers) therapy. As we bring 2020 to a close, I look forward to learning about what’s possible in the future for myeloma treatment.
As in previous years, my mission going into ASH20 is to inspire and offer hope through blogging and tweeting my experience. It is my goal to know that all myeloma patients experience hope for their progression-free and overall myeloma survival journey.
Attending ASH20 as part of the IMF Social Media Team is a privilege and I am again grateful for the opportunity. I look forward to sharing and highlighting information with you. Follow us live on Twitter (#ASH20 and #IMFASH20).
Wishing you Hope,
Tiffany H. Williams @MyelomaHope