I made it to day 3 despite the best efforts of friends and colleagues trying their best to corrupt and lead me astray. Of course, I resisted on all counts. Last night we were taken around Prague on an old tram and had dinner at a wonderful old venue across town. The half hour walk back to the hotel with team-CML was welcome relief from an intense, exhausting day. It was a good chance, again, to connect with patient group leaders and pharmaceutical representatives to discuss the fish and the flesh.

Omelette for breakfast again, I’m a creature of habit. The conference was soon underway and we were straight into fascinating presentations from Katerina Machova-Polakova and Tim Hughes. I’m not sure what this says about me but it’s certainly a great way to spend a Sunday morning. Better than washing the car and mowing lawns anyway. The topic was monitoring and the advent of much more sensitive techniques. Tim Hughes seemed particularly hopeful about the Cepheid Genexpert machine which requires a tiny blood sample, patients rejoice! It is far more sensitive than the traditional technique. We also touched upon DNA sequencing which can push the boundaries of just how undetectable the patient is. This is going to help us understand just how effective stop trials are and when the best time, if at all, patients can stop treatment safely.

Gianantonio Rosti from Italy spoke in detail about the new ELN guidelines that are being submitted this week. It was heartening to see all 3 common treatments (imatinib, dasatinib, nilotinib) being advocated, the UK should take note. The importance of optimal and sub-optimal responses in a shorter period of time certainly supports the need for the widest range of TKI treatment.

After some useful breakout sessions and a round-up of conference activity it was time to say goodbye over a farewell lunch. Business card swapped, good wishes for the year ahead made and promises to do it all again next year were made. It’s an odd experience to spend an intense 3 days with a large group of people sharing a common vision. We are driven, desperately, to not waste a single minute and to make the most of every opportunity presented.

As I write these closing words on a plane several thousand feet above Frankfurt, Germany, my thoughts wonder to the delegates from 55 countries currently being pinged through the air, like me, back home. The responsibility of the conference weighs heavy, it is now our job to return home and share what we have learnt.

It’s with thanks I sign off; to the scientists, Doctors and nurses, the conference organisers and my buddies Nigel and Tony. To our friends at the conference and all over the world, for those able to support and those in need of support, we are together. For those having a tough time on drugs, recovering from and waiting for a transplant, we are there for you. Nobody said it was going to be easy but we continue to defying gravity every single day.

Thanks for reading.

Kris

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