Friday, April 12, 2013

IT'S A WRAP -- #AACR IN REVIEW ...

It was three times larger than San Antonio, the convention center wasn't just outside the hotel door and the item most seen in the trash receptacles?  Band Aid wrappers.  Yes, it's a guarantee we all have blisters on our feet.  I DID have on comfy shoes.  Except for the night I wore the red ones but that evening, I only had to get from my room to the ballroom in the hotel.

I don't know where to begin.  The science.  Exciting.  Makes me hopeful.  It feels like we are right there.  It feels like we are about to turn a corner.  I was exposed to more knowledge than I can possibly grasp in three lifetimes.  The researchers are brilliant.

Yes, it's about the site where cancer develops but the most exciting things are happening on a cellular level which leads me to an understanding that discoveries are going to translate to treatments that transcend any one cancer type.  Is it curable? I can't see how.... but I do believe the process will be interrupted.  Treatments will be more targeted and less toxic.  We aren't close enough but the direction is changing and that is what I predict.  How quickly?  Not nearly fast enough for too many which is why we can't allow research to be stalled by lack of funding.

Nice segue to the Rally for Medical Research.  As participants in the scientist survivor program we had VIP seats at the rally.  Front row center.  Maura Tierney, the ambassador for SU2C was the final speaker.  It was hard not to cry.  My mom sent me an email.  She watched some of the live stream and she said the same thing.  Maura Tierney might have been telling my story.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer. At nearly the same time, her dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. Her dad died six months later.  So did mine.  The only difference, Maura didn't mention anything about her mother getting a new cancer diagnosis right after her dad died.  My mom was diagnosed with her third cancer just three weeks after my dad died.  Now, nearly six years later, she's metastatic.

Meanwhile, back in DC, the cherry blossoms are trying to bloom and the convention center was buzzing.  Genomic sequencing holds tremendous promise in unlocking many of the mysteries.  Ditto immunology.  We are on the verge of an explosion of data and we need the help of the brainiacs in Silicone Valley to store and analyze these data.  If they don't jump on board, we will be where criminal forensics was just a few years ago......  some poor person with bleeding eyes looking at fingerprint swirls.  I'm throwing down a challenge to the cool geeks, get moving.  If science produces the information, they will need your help.

There was a contentious meeting about the FDA drug acceleration process and right now, that is in the forefront of my mind.  The drug that created the biggest buzz for most of us in San Antonio is on a fast track.  PD991 now has a name.  It's for metastatic breast cancer and Pfizer has been granted "breakthrough" status by the FDA for this drug.  More on that process and the meeting, some of which pissed me off as patients were discussed as commodities and were painted in a fairly hysterical light by many on the panel.  Note to panel.  Some of us DO understand evidence based medicine and are NOT hysterical.  Some of us DO understand that science does trump all but by the same token, decisions belong at the bedside and not in the boardroom and there are exceptions.  Topic to be expanded upon in an upcoming blog.

The best parts of the AACR meeting?

Having Yvonne join me for a glass of wine (or two) when she arrived in DC.  Yvonne...... Considering the Lilies..... Pictures to follow...

Seeing Andrea, Brave Bosom, at my side after the Rally.  Flyers in hand, ready to take the meeting by storm over the impending Supreme Court oral arguments.  We had no more than 15 minutes together but I understand she managed to engage some of the scientists who were shocked to learn there is a patent on our genes.  More pictures to follow....

Learning that I was mentioned for my "tweet" coverage of the meeting thanks to a visit by Pieter who stopped by to see me during the now infamous poster presentation.  It's always a thrill to see my name in print anywhere it wasn't written by me.

Having Symplur refer to me as an influencer and the person who submitted the #AACR hashtag to their organization to track the meeting.  Mostly, the only thing I influence is me.....

There's so much more to share..... bumping into the brilliant research professor from the world class lab that I just toured days before leaving for the meeting..... being introduced to the new physician in chief of MSKCC who seems like he is going to find ways to improve perfection.

I think I'll stop for now.  I'm punting this to Lori and Scorchy.  They will be in Philly together over the weekend.  Living Beyond Breast Cancer is having their Annual Conference for Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer.  I am going to watch this one from the sidelines.  I already arranged for VIP treatment for both of them when I met up with LBBC in DC.  Everything in DC is an acronym.  Anna Barker's observation and lesson.  Ergo, my work here is done.

On Monday, Lori will be on the steps of the Supreme Court with CJ and with Andrea and the whole crew from Breast Cancer Action.  I'll be on the sidelines for that too... unless I decide to get up at hop a train on Monday.....

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for your coverage! Hope to meet you at a future meeting

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  2. AnneMarie:
    I thought of you Wednesday when I went into DC to see the cherry blossoms. (I played hooky from work!) I got off the Metro and there was a big banner hanging in the station for the rally. Sounds like you were really busy when you were here - hope you got the chance to see some of the blossoms. Maybe next time you're here we can meet.....

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    1. PS - thought the poster turned our beautifully! Can't believe you were so worried about it. It was IMPRESSIVE!!!

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  3. So great to meet you AM. Just mindboggling that so many parallel lives are being lived out in this community. If you're ever in Phoenix . . .

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  4. AnneMarie,

    What you are doing is AWESOME. You are indeed an influencer. I hope when I visit New York next, we can finally meet-up.

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