Wow. Yet again I am overwhelmed by the number of people from around the world who are affected by peritoneal surface malignancies. Whether it’s the surgeons from 30 + countries from around the world, the researchers, the support medical teams such as dieticians, physiotherapists etc or just us the patients. This bi-annual conference humbled me, a 14 year veteran, with its sheer scope and size.
Let me explain. Up until three years ago, I had never met someone with my cancer. I went through six operations, three rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and never once spoke to someone who was also going through it. The support groups at the time on the internet were in the infancy or you had to pay a fee to join them. With hindsight, it was a very lonely, scary place to be.
To attend this conference, where there were 600+ people who not only are aware of my disease but have dedicated their lives to researching and performing operations, through HIPEC, all to help in advancing the search for a cure, was a great honour.
So on behalf of Pseudomyxoma Survivor, Michael Healey and myself had the great pleasure of attended the 10th International Congress on Peritoneal Surface Malignancies in Washington DC (PSOGI 16), a bi-annual event that the charity has attended before.
The days are structured around clinical trial findings and current studies which are still in progress. Aimed at medical professionals, some was way over our heads but I sat through one interesting session. The clinical study of 400 patients on Surgery and Oxaliplatin or Mitomycin C in Treating Patients with Tumors of the Appendix. I kept up, on the whole with what was being discussed and held my breath whilst Dr Edward Levine told us he had the results and they looked promising! He kept the suspense going and then declared that although the results where in his pocket he couldn’t tell us as the results have not been published yet! Drat and double drat! We’ll need to collectively watch this space….
In another hall, the exhibitors had set up their stalls and it was great to meet fellow patients, who are also volunteers running or assisting charities all with the aim of promoting and supporting those with peritoneal metastasis. I even got to meet a young lady from China, who is starting her own support group there. Great news, as I don’t think any of our volunteers have quite mastered Chinese yet! (Angela – note to self please.)
1100 abstract/poster presentations were also available to view, examples of which you can see in the photographs.
When I first started on my cancer journey, the “Sugarbaker Technique” sounded like the most harrowing of all surgical procedures, I was petrified that I may have to have that procedure. But I did and I’m able to tell my story and never did I think that I would get to meet him! What a gentle, humble man he is. In his 70’s now, he has hunched shoulders and a dignified presence. I guess the rounded shoulders come from years of peering down into abdomens and perfecting the technique. He is a great advocate of teaching fellow surgeons and encouraging research and discussion. He presented 10 surgeons (mine included – Miss Sarah O’Dwer, at the Christie) with a Mentor Award.
To name all of the surgeons and medical teams that were in attendance, would take to long – what a lovely encouraging, positive note to end on!
Click on an image below to see a larger version