Chicago GDOL 2015On the evening of Tuesday, April 14, the Lurie Cancer Center of Northwestern University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois played host to the second stop in the nationwide GIST Day of Learning (GDOL) tour schedule. 65 GIST patients, caregivers, family members, physicians and medical staff attended the event.

A GIST Day of Learning (GDOL) is a free, one-day program that provides both education and support to the GIST community. Medical professionals who have specialties in GIST cancer give presentations on issues relevant to their fields of expertise. GDoL’s provide an opportunity not only to meet and interact with local expert practitioners in an intimate setting, but also for patients to connect with one another in a supportive environment.

Speakers for Saturday’s event included Mildred Menos, Assistant Director of Programs at Life Raft Group, who emceed the event and spoke about the varied services, resources and projects the Life Raft Group is involved in. LRG Clinical Trials Coordinator and Illinois state leader, Jim Hughes, briefed the group on the clinical trial resources page he maintains on the LRG website as well as the website he runs for the Chicago GIST community to keep in touch ( Expert medical presentations were provided by clinical oncologist Dr. Mark Agulnik, surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Wayne and Oncology Fellow Dr. Nisha Mohindra. After the presentations the doctors sat on a panel which fielded questions directly from the audience. A topic of particular interest was the factors that went into determining the best dosage and treatment for a patient. The team at Northwestern believes that although Sutent is commonly referred to as the “second line of treatment”, adjusting Gleevec dosage is often just as effective, serving as the “second line in practice.”

In addition to the session’s speakers, the meeting featured hosted tables by Lurie’s Patient Navigator program Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, who were on hand to provide literature and answer questions. Participants also took part in the LRG’s newest awareness campaign, #ShowUsYourRare, by taking photos proclaiming what made them “rare.”

The next GDoL in our series will be taking place in Miami, Florida on May 16. Please keep tuned to the LRG website and our email communications for more information on these events and others.

Interested in having the LRG come to your city for our next GDoL? Email your ideas to Laura Occhiuzzi at

Mildred Menos
Author: Mildred Menos