Free International Myeloma Foundation forum is back in March

After 3 years, Patient and Family Seminar returns to in-person format

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by Mary Chapman |

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Following a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Patient and Family Seminar hosted by the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) will return to its in-person format for 2023.

The free event, which also may be attended virtually, is slated for March 17-18 in Boca Raton, Florida.

It’s intended to enable patients and their families to hear directly from world-renowned multiple myeloma experts about the latest in treatments and clinical trials, and to connect with other community members.

“Patient and Family Seminars are informative, fun, inspirational, and hopeful,” Yelak Biru, IMF’s president and CEO, and a myeloma patient, said in a foundation press release.

“You can connect with others going through the same journey, find the playbook you want to adopt on your own path, and ask the difficult questions you have been unable to ask in a safe environment,” Biru said, adding, “Whether I join a Patient and Family Seminar as ‘just a patient’ or in my role as president and CEO, I always find them invigorating and educational.”

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Both in-person and virtual attendance registration are open for the interactive seminar, which will be held at the Boca Raton Marriott at Boca Center. The IMF has secured a limited number of discounted rooms at the hotel, at a rate of $169 per night, that will be available on a first come, first serve system until Feb. 15.

So far, seminar speakers will include Biru, who has lived with multiple myeloma for more than two decades, and Brian G. M. Durie, MD, IMF’s chief scientific officer and board chairman. Beth Faiman, PhD, an IMF nurse leadership board member from the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, also will be speaking at the seminar.

Another speaker will be Sigurður Kristinsson, MD, PhD, principal investigator of the IMF’s iStopMM Project, the first large-scale population-screening study aimed at preventing myeloma before it develops.

Kristinsson will provide insights from that study, which is led by the foundation’s Black Swan Research Initiative. The study is seeking to determine how the blood cancer can be cured.

Other speakers, along with the program’s agenda, will be announced at a later date.

Patient and Family Seminars are informative, fun, inspirational, and hopeful.

To help keep attendees safe, the Patient and Family sessions will continue to require masking and social distancing. COVID-19 vaccination records also are required of all attendees.

“Whether you are new in your myeloma journey or a seasoned veteran, once you attend a Patient and Family Seminar, I know you cannot wait until the IMF returns to your area with another program,” Biru said.

The first Patient and Family Seminar was held in 1993 to improve education of myeloma patients on available treatment options and potential complications. The foundation says this type of knowledge can improve outcomes for patients.

“I was attending a large medical conference and I thought, ‘Where are the patients? Why are they not meeting with these myeloma experts?’ After this, the IMF team and I decided to host our first Patient and Family Seminar,” said Susie Durie, IMF’s founder and director of global patient initiatives on the creation of Patient and Family Seminars.

Sheri Baker, a myeloma patient and support group leader, said that while “nobody wants to have cancer,” the disease brought people into her life “that never would have come into my life before that.”

“A lot of that is through the IMF. All the people at the IMF — the people who run the Patient Family Seminars, the people who run our support groups, and the support group leaders I’ve met through the IMF — they are now friends,” Baker added.

Founded in 1990, the International Myeloma Foundation has conducted more than 250 educational seminars globally. It has more than 525,000 members in 140 countries.