The American Society of Hematology 62nd Annual Conference (ASH) was like none other in many ways. It was the first virtual meeting which certainly had its positives and negatives. It was much easier to take notes and I loved the ability to “rewind” the presentations to hear something for a second time. On the negative side, there was no opportunity for personal interaction with doctors and our ASH team, although we chatted virtually multiple times a day.
Secondly, it was great because the myeloma information presented provided new initiatives and seemed especially valuable to me. There were fewer overall abstracts at ASH this year and less related to myeloma (179 oral and 500 posters), but the quality was outstanding! As ASH wrapped up on Monday, I felt a renewed sense of hope and I think all other patients like me who’ve already done multiple treatments regimens should feel the same.
The treatment landscape continues to broaden and get more complicated but being an educated patient and with the help of a myeloma specialist we can all navigate our journey with the best possible results. Being educated can start with being active in your local support group and taking advantage of the great information available through the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF). You will definitely want to watch the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) Conference Series ASH highlights IMWG Conference Series: ASH 2020 | International Myeloma Foundation. As you listen, I suggest writing down questions that you want to ask your specialist during your next visit or discuss with members of your support group. These may be questions about what the experts are saying about your current treatment or questions about your next possible treatments.
One reason that I took away so much hope from this year’s conference is that the abstracts continued to broaden the treatment landscape. There was discussion about new targets on the myeloma cells. This is important because as your myeloma evolves, it outsmarts the current treatments. Last year there was much discussion about the immunotherapies targeting the BCMA antigen expressed on myeloma cells. This is great and these treatments continue to be tested but they are already looking down the road to when BCMA is no longer actively expressed on your myeloma cells. There were several abstracts about new targets for the future. The myeloma research community is never satisfied with what we have now; thankfully, they are always looking for the “what next”. The “what next” will eventually become an approved treatment and perhaps change the standard of care for all myeloma patients. All this provides us with more years of living well with myeloma.
I wish you all a promising 2021 and encourage you to take advantage of all the available resources from the IMF International Myeloma Foundation | Multiple Myeloma Information to assist you in your journey.
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