Over 80 GISTers and their loved ones gathered from all over to attend the 3rd annual GIST Day of Learning (GDOL) in Miami, held on February 9,  to hear from the team of experts at University of Miami Sylvester Cancer Center. This conference would not be possible without the support and cooperation of our friend and colleague, Dr. Jonathan Trent, the Co-Director of the Musculoskeletal Center, Director of the Sarcoma Medical Research Program, and Professor at the University of Miami (UM). His knowledge, commitment, and passion for helping the GIST community have fostered a true collaboration between LRG and Sylvester, enabling us to provide excellent conferences such as GDOL.

The event began with an introduction by Dr. Stephen D. Nimer, the Director of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. It was an honor to have Dr. Nimer introduce the day and participants were able to hear the commitment that Sylvester has in servicing the GIST community.

Next, Dr. Breelyn Wilky, a medical oncologist who joined Dr. Trent this past year, gave an excellent GIST 101 presentation. Not only did Dr. Wilky provide a very good foundation of basic GIST  knowledge to the group, but she made herself available to speak with participants throughout the day.

Dr. Trent followed with a presentation on “GIST Therapy after Standard Meds.” As always, he captivated the group by sharing new information and advancements in GIST treatment.

Following the coffee break was pathologist Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, one of our favorite featured speakers at GDOL! Dr. Rosenberg has an ability to take the field of pathology and engage everyone in the room on how GIST is diagnosed and the role of mutational testing.

Next was molecular geneticist Dr. Olaf Bodamer, who gave a talk on “Genetic Testing in GIST and the Role of Next Generation Sequencing.” This topic was important to highlight as this is the direction medicine is going toward and Dr. Trent has been one of the few GIST oncologists to incorporate it into his practice.

The next presentation was on “Surgery Assessment and Resection of GIST” by Dr. Floriano Marchetti. Participants learned about surgical procedures leading to the surgical resection prior and post drug therapy.

A nice lunch was served followed by a roundtable discussion by experts. Participants had the opportunity to ask a variety of questions to the team

Participants were then excited to hear a presentation by Dr. Loretta Williams, a nurse who travelled from MD Anderson Cancer Center, to give a presentation on “Managing Side Effects: Updated Data on GIST Side Effects.” Dr. Williams shared a survey that she conducted in which she asked 150 patients every one to two weeks for one year to rate their symptom burden (severity of important symptoms and interference of symptoms with daily functioning). Some of the most severe symptoms highlighted were fatigue, drowsiness, general weakness, disturbed sleep, and muscle soreness or cramping.

Following Dr. Williams, Elizabeth Fontao, a Physician Assistant who works with Dr. Trent, provided a natural transition into how patients can monitor these common side effects and ways to manage them.

Lastly, Dr. Ashwin Mehta finished the day with an excellent presentation on using integrative medicine while living with GIST. He summed up well how certain techniques, ranging from diet to finding pressure points in the body to help with nausea, can help provide patients with a better quality of life.

We want to thank Dr. Trent, his family, the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and all the volunteers who helped make this day a success!

We would also like to acknowledge Novartis and Pfizer for their generous support for sponsoring the GIST Day of Learning.

Thank you to our volunteer photographer Don Edgar of DL Photography for capturing GDOL as well as our volunteer videographer Chloe Domont and her colleague Brian for recording the meeting on video.

To view photos and videos, please click here.