Program Chair- Patrick Borgen, MD (Maimonides)
Program Co-Chairs- Aness Chagpar MD, MSc, MPH, MA, MBA, FACS, FRSC(C) (Yale)
Hope Rugo, MD, FASCO (UCSF)
Debu Tripathy, MD (MD Anderson)
Scientific Keynote Speaker- Scott Gottlieb, MD (FDA)
I was able to represent the MpBC Global Alliance, Inc. this past March 5th -8th 2020 for the Miami Breast Cancer Conference. Before she passed away this past January, Patti Hennessey the late wife of Mike Hennessey CEO & President of MJH Life Sciences arranged for me to attend. Patti was originally diagnosed in 2011 with ovarian cancer and was also BRCA+. She joined our group in 2018 after being diagnosed with Metaplastic Breast Cancer. She fought a hard, long battle. She managed to beat all the odds until metastatic disease was found in her brain this past January. While she still carried on with a positive outlook she passed away January 28th. I remember her expressing her joy with the birth of her grandchildren. It was a shock to Susan Oran and I as we communicated often with her and she was our go-to-expert in regards to the BRCA mutation.
I was privileged to attend the Patient Keynote Address done by an energetic young metastatic Nalie Agustin and was blown away by her documented story. This year and forward the Keynote Address is renamed “The Patti Hennessy Keynote Address”. Her son, Mike Hennessey Jr. did a touching tribute. You can visit her story here: https://www.mpbcalliance.org/news/patti-member-story-spotlight/
My takeaways: Metaplastic Breast Cancer is not on the “general” research radar. Triple Negative Breast Cancer is and there were sessions in regards to TNBC. These conference days begin at 6:30am and can go into the evenings. I am learning to navigate my way through the schedule and pick and choose which sessions are of most value for our rare group. I do not have a medical background but tend to understand and pick up on details that may help keep us up to date on treatment options.
What I have learned? This research takes a long time! Nothing stands out for me to consider focusing on or report other than Immunotherapy is advancing in combination with other targeted options or chemotherapy. Focus was also placed on identifying biomarkers to benefit from precision medicine.
ASCO and SABCS attract more global experts. MBCC, for now is a bit more intimate and relaxed, which allows personal interaction with the most knowledgeable experts studying and treating the most difficult breast cancer cases. At First, I was nervous to sit in on “Meet the Facility Case Discussion” sessions but by the second day I relaxed a bit more and listened and learned about difficult cases that treating oncologist are being challenged with.
Due to the Coronavirus some Faculty did not make it in town. Luckily, I was still able to introduce myself and our organization to these top research oncologists: Debu Tripathy (MD Anderson), Patrick Borgen (Maimonides Medical Ctr), Michael Alvarado (UCSF), Adam Brufsky (UPMC), Judy Boughey (Mayo) Fleure Gallant (Miami Med). I was also able to reconnect with Hope Rugo (UCSF).
To date our Metaplastic Breast Cancer Global Alliance, Inc. has been represented at ASCO 2019, SABCS 2019 and now Miami Breast Cancer Conference 2020. We are making headway. This is tough and we have a great team with Susan D. Oran, Stephanie Oran, Casie A. Houmes (PA), Jim Harvey Sy, Mary Anne Baysac (MD), our supports from the Diagnosed Women’s only Group and The Support and Information Group run by Linda Pirkle and our Growing Global Communities. Together we are all “Supporting The Advancement Of Research Into Metaplastic Carcinoma of the Breast”
Our future will be focusing on gathering data with Ciitizen and we recently have been introduced to a dedicated researcher supporting Dr. Stacy Moulder’s efforts affiliated with MD Anderson, Clinton Yam M.D. We are seeing the benefits from his assistance and look forward to his involvement.
-Laura A. Houmes