Our first Chicago GIST Day of Learning was a huge success! Over 50 GISTers and their families gathered for a great day of learning, and sharing experiences. It was wonderful to get to meet so many new people and reconnect with old friends.

Our session on surgical options by Jeffrey Wayne, MD, FACS Associate Professor of Surgery Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, was very informative and included details on options for GIST surgery at Northwestern.

Al B. Benson III, MD FACP Professor of Medicine Associate Director for Clinical Investigations, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, explained GIST in detail, describing the treatments available and how working with your whole treatment team is vital to successfully managing the disease.

Jim Hughes, LRG Clinical Trials Coordinator gave a talk on clinical trials, what’s currently available and how to navigate them. This can be a particularly difficult avenue for anyone facing progression after having exhausted the currently available drugs. Jim is a wealth of knowledge and we encourage anyone in need of information on trials to contact him at tjhughes43@comcast.net.

At noon, we enjoyed the culinary delights provided by Sodexo of Northwestern University, The Chicken Marsala and Vegetarian Lasagna highlighted a terrific lunch which was a great time for all of us to talk and get to know each other better. A big thank you to Nicole Cattouse from everyone at the event. Well done!

The Pathology of GIST by Dr. William Laskin, MD Associate Professor of Pathology Northwestern University, was a highlight to the day. Dr. Laskin explained in easy to understand terms how the tumors can begin, how the cells of the GIST tumor work, and how mutational testing and information can be so important to treatment.

Lastly, everyone had an opportunity to ask the expert panel their questions. This is one of the most commented on areas of the day—so many people were glad they had a chance to share their questions and get detailed information from our esteemed panel.

On behalf of The Life Raft Group and all the attendees, many thanks to Northwestern University, and to Sharon Markman for all her assistance in making this such a successful event. And thank you to Dr. Benson, Dr. Laskin, Dr. Wayne, Dr. Agulnik and Jim Hughes for such wonderful presentations.

A special thank you goes out to Megan Cahill from Northwestern, whose assistance and company during the day was so greatly appreciated. To our volunteers, Jim and Margie Hughes, Tony Reynes for photographing our gathering, and to Shellie Neveles. It is only with the help of others that any of us succeed.

We are now planning the next GDOL event to be held in California, so stay tuned to our website, Facebook and Twitter for more details!

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Check out more photos from the event by clicking the image

Janeen Ryan
Author: Janeen Ryan