Together Facing Leiomyosarcoma
“When we all get together, it’s the greatest gift,” Jim Matthews, a 20-year cancer survivor, said. “We’re looking for answers. If you open yourself up to fellowship and friends, you’ll find there’s a lot out there.”
Matthews was one of the 70 patients, friends, family, clinicians, and researchers who braved a surprising late-winter chill to attend Together Facing Leiomyosarcoma on a recent Saturday morning at Fox Chase Cancer Center.
The latest in Fox Chase’s Together Facing series, the event provided in-depth education, the latest news, and an opportunity for sarcoma patients and advocates to talk with experts in the field. After a complimentary breakfast, a team of leaders from Fox Chase spent the morning covering a range of topics.
John Abraham, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, explained the different kinds of scans and images doctors take to help diagnose and monitor patients. Jeffrey Farma, MD, a surgical oncologist, presented on the different types and stages of sarcoma and discussed the pros and cons of different treatment options. He also stressed the importance of teamwork in treating diseases like sarcoma, saying Fox Chase’s sarcoma team meets weekly to discuss tricky cases and come up with the best possible treatment options for patients.
Sujana Movva, MD, a medical oncologist, spoke about new treatments on the horizon for sarcoma patients, while Margaret von Mehren, MD, chief of the sarcoma program, discussed how immunotherapy treatments could be used to treat sarcoma.
Gina Mantia-Smaldone, MD, a gynecologic surgical oncologist, spoke about uterine fibroids and sarcoma and the risk of spreading a cancer that was hidden in the fibroid during removal.
Rounding out the educational portion of the event, social worker Anjali Albanese talked about coping with a sarcoma diagnosis, and the services offered by the social work department at Fox Chase.
Following the presentations, the group broke for lunch, where patients and caregivers were able to mingle with the presenters. Longtime survivor Matthews shared his sarcoma experiences with the crowd, as did Marge Rudloff, another sarcoma survivor who has been cancer-free since a recurrence in 1996.
Annie and Mitch Achee of the National Leiomyosarcoma Foundation were also in attendance and spoke about the work that is being done to raise awareness about the disease. The first National Leiomyosarcoma Day will be held on July 15 of this year.
“There is hope,” said Mitch Achee, a survivor of Leiomyosarcoma. “Keep the faith and stay strong for each other.”