A team from Myeloma Australia had the opportunity to attend ‘Blood2018’ (formerly HAA) the largest haematology conference in Australia in Brisbane at the end of October.

With our team of ten Myeloma Support Nurses from across the country and CEO Steve Roach we descended upon Brisbane for 3 days of learning and networking with health professionals from Australia and New Zealand. In the many lectures attended we heard updates and results from large myeloma clinical trials from international speakers Prof Faith Davies and Prof Ola Landgren as well as local investigator led trials such as the ALLG MM18 from A/Prof Hang Quach. In addition, we listened to lectures about some of the exciting drugs in development and currently being explored in clinical trials in our country. It’s always inspiring to hear that there is so much research going on and so much potential to help people living with myeloma.

The conference also has a substantial nursing stream and our Myeloma Support Nurses were able to attend a variety of presentations that relate to both their clinical roles in the hospitals as well as their roles in the community at Myeloma Australia. Expert nurses presented on how we best capture and measure patient reported outcomes and quality of life information, care for indigenous populations, and nurse led initiatives to improve care of people living with myeloma.

In addition to the conference meetings we heard the latest updates from the Myeloma and Related Disease registry (MRDR) and attended advocacy meetings with Lymphoma Australia, Leukaemia Foundation, Snowdome and the Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group (ALLG) to discuss ways to collaborate to improve drug access and clinical trial availability in Australia for people living with blood cancers.

We were also invited to a education event where Prof Ola Landgren and several Australian haematologists presented and discussed the advances and applications of monitoring minimal residual disease (MRD) in myeloma and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). Prof Landgren spoke about some current and upcoming trials designed to utilise MRD testing in myeloma to direct and augment treatment decisions or pathways. This was great food for thought and generated a good discussion about how MRD can be utilised in the clinical setting to improve patient outcomes.

Myeloma Australia had a small stand in the exhibition hall and seldom did we have a quite time. Health care professionals and scientists picked up out literature, discussed the needs of their local myeloma communities and planned education and patient support programs with our Myeloma Support Nurses. We were especially thrilled to have our two new Queensland nurses Tash and Megan attend the conference in their home town. Having just started in the month earlier their network is now bigger with a number of events in the pipeline; a very exciting time for our Queensland myeloma community.

Overall the conference was a great success and our Myeloma Support Nurses have come back with information to share with their local communities through our Information and Support Groups, Telephone Support Line, Seminars and Health Professional Education programs. Having our team together was an added bonus, with our nurses spread around the country, it’s rare to have them all together for three days talking about their local programs and as a result the ideas were flowing on how we can continue to  improve and expand our support and services for people living with myeloma… we can’t wait to see what 2019 will bring.

Thank you to our pharma partners for supporting our team to attend this conference.