Recap of the “Knowledge IS Hope” Conference on Malignant Mesothelioma

crowd_smallToday, September 28, was the first time we organized a regional conference in an effort to give those unable to travel to our annual Symposium a day packed with information, experts, and social mingling opportunities. In the next few years, it is our hope to organize similar smaller conferences around the country to allow more of you to participate.

This morning began with a bit of rain, which did not affect the fact that the room ended up filling up and the conference was sold out. As attendees poured in (no pun), they looked forward an impressive agenda of speakers.

Following Dr. Lee Krug’s and Mary Hesdorffer’s welcome, Dr. Harvey Pass took the stage. Dr. Pass spoke about the role of surgery in malignant pleural mesothelioma, including the International Association on Staging Lung Cancer’s staging project funded by the Meso Foundation. He also told everyone that he has a huge announcement which will be released in the New England Journal of Medicine in two weeks. We will keep you posted on that announcement, so make sure you are connected to us through our Facebook page or that we have your email so we can send you news updates.

At this point, our program was briefly interrupted for a special award. Meso warrior and Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature Bill Lindsay and his wife Pat presented Drs. Pass, Krug, Rosenzweig and Mary Hesdorffer, NP, with a Lifesaver Proclamation for his work in mesothelioma research and treatment.

Dr. Rosenzweig was up next discussing radiation therapy, followed by Drs. Krug and Ladanyi, who respectively discussed chemotherapy and genetics. Dr. Krug, in particular, emphasized the importance of clinical trial participation and he directed those interested in learning more to contact our own executive director and nurse practitioner, Mary Hesdorffer, who is an expert in clinical trials in mesothelioma.

After lunch, the conference reconvened with two talks about peritoneal mesothelioma surgery and chemotherapy, presented by Dr. Robert Taub of Columbia University, and Dr. Garrett Nash of Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Mary Hesdorffer, Nurse Practitioner, followed these two talks with her presentation on current clinical trials, and Dr. Wesa of Memorial Sloan-Kettering discussed complementary therapies for mesothelioma patients.

At this point, the conversation moved to the topic of occupational and 9/11 exposures (very relevant to our mostly New York-based attendees) and cancer risk, presented by Dr. Jacqueline Moline. Robert Komitor, Esq., followed by discussing the legal implications of mesothelioma.

All in all, the conference was a great success, and as attendees left the conference room to join the happy hour room, the Meso Foundation’s executive director, Mary Hesdorffer, said the following:

“This has been an amazing conference. The presentations were easily understood and targeted toward helping patients and family members tackle the tough decisions with which they are faced.  I was impressed by the knowledge and compassion of my colleagues. They recognize the need of this community to be empowered to make educated decisions. As the conference progressed, It became apparent that we do not have all the answers but that we are beginning to put together the mesothelioma puzzle.  Today, we  discussed surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy as well as complementary and alternative medicine.  Dr. Krug, the chair of our Science Advisory Board  moderated the sessions and ample time was provided for question and discussion.

We will leave this conference with a renewed sense of hope but also resolve to fund more research grants, as well as perhaps initiate a clinical trials consortium to get the answers to unresolved questions in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma. Knowledge Is Hope!”