NCRI 2017 Liverpool 5.11.17

What an absolutely fabulous city this is! I arrived yesterday after a long haul journey of 8 and a half hours. Had a mooch about last night and this morning. So many things to see. Today was The Tate and The Slavery Museum. Both very thought provoking, both left their mark.

Before that a discussion over breakfast with the head of the NCRI consumer members covered; a collaboration across site specific cancers with a link to HPV, the frustration at the lack of true patient involvement with cancer charities, a collaboration between Teenage and Young Adults group and Screening and prevention re HPV education. This was before I had even finished my coffee. More of this at a later date.

The start of conference ‘Proper’ was at 3pm. Welcome speech then followed by a talk on…well…I couldn’t tell you….lots of detailed knowledge about teeeny tiny little bits of stuff which may or may not respond correspond to big number of other things. It made me sit there and think, I’m being touted as a patient expert and I do not have a single clue what this guy is on about. Another guy talking about similar small things was easier on the ear, but still way over my head.

When it was time to leave I was thinking ‘What have I done?’

Then this happened. A really good talk from a guy at Oxford, who basically gave a talk for ‘beginners’ about cancer treatments. Very good stuff indeed. Learnt loads about radiotherapy and what proton beam therapy is in more detail. A member of the audience asked the question…Many of my patients report fatigue when going through radiotherapy, is there a specific reason for this? Guy didn’t know why radiotherapy would cause fatigue.Why would he? He didn’t deal with patients, he was a physicist playing with his beams.

I later went up to the guy who had asked the question and gave him some possible answers. Having had a recent cancer diagnosis and dealing with the fall out from that, having to organise life, and lifts, and others grief, and researching your cancer,  analyse your emotions, pondering your mortality and the meaning of life and being at hospital every day IS KNACKERING. Simple.

The guy also went on to talk about targeted therapies, and which part of the cell sequence is affected. They can now pinpoint what part of a cells DNA is responsible for causing the cancer. Amazing stuff. I asked how, from a biopsy, you can tell this. How in a real life scenario does one find out what type of camp their cancer falls into. They can’t tell from a biopsy was the answer. They may be learning how to fix problems,  but its not easy to find out if it’s that problem that needs fixing. Is any research valid if its not directly transferable to the patients? Hmmm. So much to think about.






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