In 2008 I attended my first International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) Patient and Family Seminar. It was during that gathering that I learned something that would stay constant throughout my years of dealing with myeloma: knowledge is power and empowered patients have the best possible outcomes. Since attending that first seminar I continued to educate myself. I wanted to be a powerful patient. The IMF has been a major source of my education. Being a retired fifth grade teacher, I also have made an effort to educate my “MyelomaTeacher” Facebook and Twitter followers about the latest developments in myeloma so that they too can be active participants in their care and empowered partners on their healthcare team.

Next week I will be flying to the Peach State to attend the American Society of Hematology’s (ASH) 59th Annual Meeting, which will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. ASH is the world’s most comprehensive hematology event. According to ASH’s website,The meeting will provide an invaluable educational experience and the opportunity to review thousands of scientific abstracts highlighting updates in the hottest topics in hematology. Network with top minds in the field and a global community of more than 25,000 hematology professionals from every subspecialty.” I will be attending #ASH17 as a member of a team of support group leaders and patient advocates that the International Myeloma Foundation and their sponsors are bringing to this annual meeting. The team will be live-tweeting from ASH, using the hashtags #ASH17, #mmsm, and #IMFASH17. Team members will also be writing blogs and conducting video interviews.

Being an educator, a life-long learner, and a self-proclaimed Science Geek, I love attending medical conferences. When I have the opportunity to attend a medical meeting, I feel extremely fortunate to have the chance to learn first-hand the latest developments in the field of myeloma and to be able to share my patient perspective with a targeted audience. This year’s meeting officially begins on Saturday, December 9, 2017, and ends of Tuesday, December 12, 2017, but satellite symposiums will be held on Friday. These 3–4 hour sessions that are held in the morning, afternoon, and evening are always among my favorite events.

The IMF will be presenting a satellite symposium entitled Getting Clear Answers to Complex Treatment Challengs in Multiple Myeloma. During this session internationally renowned myeloma experts will debate several relevant topics. I am looking forward to the debate on the Role of MRD in Monitoring and the Review of a 2018 Treatment Algorithm for Myeloma. Make sure to follow our tweets to gain a glimpse into this event!

Recently myeloma has had a big presence at ASH. This year nearly 700 abstracts highlighting oral and poster presentations are found when searching myeloma on the downloadable mobile app. With so many presentations to choose from it’s important to have a game plan. It’s a bit frustrating that even with our long 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. work days, we can’t possibly attend every presentation. The IMF ASH Social Media team will divide and conquer using Dr. Durie’s guidance as to which sessions may be most meaningful for us.

Networking also plays an important role at the meeting. Our team will have an opportunity to hold meetings with our pharma partners. This is vitally important. In an era of patient-centric medicine, it is essential that our pharma partners understand our journeys and what we see as our unmet needs. Working together will lead to the best possible clinical trial designs and a working partnership where we feel comfortable voicing our opinions on various topics. We will also have the opportunity to network with leaders in the field of myeloma research and the new generation of up and coming experts.

As I learned very early in my myeloma journey, knowledge is power and an empowered patients have the best possible outcomes. Follow our tweets—you can subscribe to my #ASH17 list of tweeters or just follow the #ASH17 #mmsm #imfASH17 Hashtags—and read our patient perspective blogs. Empower yourself with knowledge so you can be actively involved in your care.