The Alianza GIST 2013 meeting in Miami marked an important milestone for GIST advocates as they embarked on a plan to build a self-sustainable organization in Latin America.

“We were energized by the meeting and now have set goals for our work in the coming year,” said Piga Fernandez, Alianza GIST Coordinator.  “We are heartened by our progress in bringing support to GIST patients throughout the region.”

Representatives received intensive training on the latest advances in GIST research, an overview of common pitfalls in cancer screening among radiologists and pathologists, as well as an understanding of different cancer treatments entering the market (such as generics). A six month plan was developed to focus on Alianza GIST´s core mission areas: Education and Support, Advocacy and Access, and Research and Surveillance.

Valuable tools and programs were demonstrated to help them with their advocacy and education work in Latin America such as the online GIST course prepared by the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey, and the LRG’s Collaborative GIST Tissue Bank and the Patient Registry.

Education, advocacy and patient-support best practices were shared by representatives from Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Guatemala, which showed that local groups are making progress in prioritized areas this past year.

With the guidance of Bob Chapman of the American Cancer Society and Cristina Parsons-Perez from Catalyst Consulting Group, Alianza GIST representatives set benchmarks to discuss and define Alianza GIST’s future working plan.

“We hope the meeting raised Alianza GIST’s profile as a seasoned advocacy organization to the next level,” said Sara Rothschild, the LRG’s Program Director.