The International Myeloma Workshop (IMW) is a biannual meeting in which more than 3000 attendees participate. The workshop focuses on increasing the knowledge of physicians and providers who specialize in the biology and treatment of multiple myeloma (MM), as well as dissemination of new findings and emerging advances in the field. I recently had the honor to participate in the 15th IMW, held in Rome, Italy, September 23-26; it was my fifth time attending the meeting. In preparation for the workshop, I collaborated with several nursing colleagues from around the world to organize and host the 2nd Myeloma Nursing Symposium at this IMW conference. The nurses and I put forth a tremendous effort to develop a proposal to hold the first nursing symposium, which was granted, at the 2013 conference in Kyoto, Japan. Because the IMW has been primarily focused on physicians, the ability to hold a second meeting solely dedicated to the needs of nurses and others was a great achievement!
Once the request to hold the meeting was granted, we created a core organizing committee comprising nurse representatives from around the world: Italy—Elena Ponticelli, Manager of the Nursing Oncology Department at City of Health and Science in Turin; Australasia—Tracy King, Myeloma Nurse Consultant at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Sydney, Clinical Research Fellow at Sydney University, and member of the Executive Committee of the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand and the Myeloma UK Nurse Guidelines Group; United Kingdom—Monica Morris, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Haematology Oncology–Myeloma at St George’s Hospital, London, and member of the Myeloma UK Nurse Guidelines Group; and from the USA—Tiffany Richards, Nurse Practitioner, Multiple Myeloma and International Myeloma Foundation Nurse Leadership Board member at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston; and myself.
Once the committee was established, the next step was to develop content for a scientific program relevant to the international myeloma nursing community. We—the organizing committee—set the agenda for the nursing symposium, which focused on the informational needs not only of nurses and advanced practitioners in oncology, but also of pharmacists and physicians. In particular, the symposium included didactic, interactive, evidence-based, and fair-balanced content targeted to the care of the patient with MM. The majority of content was geared toward the management of side effects, considerations with the delivery of new drugs, and the role of genomics and decision-making in MM. The scientific program of the 15th IMW and our 2nd Myeloma Nursing Symposium can be found at www.imw2015.it/program.pdf.
The nursing symposium comprised 1 full day of the entire IMW meeting. Additional sessions relevant to physicians and advanced practitioners, such as “How I Treat,” and “Meet the Experts,” continued throughout the week, and were well-attended. Controversial topics, such as the role of transplantation and maintenance in MM, were discussed. Results of cutting-edge studies with new drugs to treat MM, such as marizomib in combination with pomalidomide and dexamethasone, were presented with promising results.
At the nursing symposium, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to serve as a chairperson for the oral abstract session, and deliver 2 lectures to an international audience. One lecture focused on symptom management, and the other reported findings of a study that used high doses of oral glutamine to ameliorate peripheral neuropathy in patients with MM. It was thrilling to interact with all of the attendees; to hear international perspectives, challenges, and practice patterns from different regions; and to learn how these nurses manage symptoms to support patients with MM in other areas of the world. It turns out that most of the challenges nurses and advanced practitioners in oncology experience in the United States, such as side effect management and psychosocial and financial issues, are similar in other areas of the globe.
The nursing symposium was a success! Attendees gave positive feedback, stating that the meeting provided an opportunity for international nurses with similar interests in myeloma to work together and share knowledge. Since the formation of the International Myeloma Society (IMS) in 2009 as an organization to support myeloma, the international myeloma community has continued its mission. In that regard, the core organizing committee for the nursing symposium thought it would be important to have a nurse-specific organization within the IMS. Thus, the committee members announced at this year’s nursing symposium that they have proposed to create a forum within the IMS to foster scientific exchange among nurses in the area of myeloma supportive care.
I am fortunate to be able to work with nurses, physicians, and other medical professionals who share my passion for taking care of patients with MM, and who are also desperate to find treatments for MM-related symptoms, as well as a cure for the cancer itself. For professionals with an interest in MM, I continue to find the IMW to be very valuable to enhance knowledge and foster relationships within the MM community. The next meeting will take place in New Dehli, India, in March 2017, and I hope to be present and an integral part of that meeting.