The Life Raft Group has developed the Women in Sarcoma program in recognition of the many women sarcoma specialists that engage with our organization and our patient and caregiver community. Their dedication to educating and advocating on behalf of those living with sarcoma is inspiring. They are Cancer Warriors, utilizing their gifts and talents to help patients thrive.

Women in Sarcoma ScreenshotOur aim is to highlight women in the sarcoma medical profession that make a difference in patients’ lives, and to share their stories of strength and perseverance dealing with rare patients & diseases with our community. The series will help us gain perspective on women’s roles in oncology, and will help us learn the challenges that female medical professionals face while balancing careers and family life. They will also share their expertise as powerful advocates working on behalf of those living with sarcoma.

As part of the ongoing series, two webinars were presented in September and October. An Interactive Multidisciplinary Panel of Experts debuted on Sept 24th with Dr. Gina D’Amato, an oncologist from the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center as moderator.  Dr. Marion Brody, Radiologist, Mercy Fitzgerald and Mercy Philadelphia Hospitals; Dr. Aimee M. Crago, Surgeon, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Dr. Anette U. Duensing, Associate Professor of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; Dr. Suzanne George, Oncologist, Dana Farber Cancer Institute; Tracy Havnaer, Registered Nurse, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute; Marlene Morales, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Dr. Neeta Somaiah, Oncologist, MD Anderson Cancer Center were the panelists from this session.

Dr. D’Amato and the panelists shared from their personal experiences on their mentors, work/life balance, and why they chose sarcoma as a career focus. They also answered questions from patients and caregivers such as, how to organize a second opinion and ask the right questions, how a decision is made between surgery and medication, and how ctDNA liquid biopsies are used and what the future holds in that area.

During the presentation, radiologist Marion Brody gave a simple, but excellent explanation of monitoring tools CT, PET scan, and MRI, and how each was different. It was discussed that an MRI is sometimes better for a GIST patient with GI issues or kidney issues due to the prep needed for CT and PET, and noted that sometimes insurance could be a barrier.

The second panel will debut in late October and will cover Case Presentations on topics relevant to the sarcoma patient’s journey and feature oncologists Dr. Vaia Florou, University of Utah, Huntsman Cancer Center, and Dr. Ciara Kelly, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and and Nurse Practitioner Sandra R. Brakert, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. A recording of this live presentation will also be available on our YouTube channel in November.

The culmination of this dynamic series will be the Women in Sarcoma Gala, a new annual event, hosted by the Life Raft Group. On December 10, 2020, we will present awards to outstanding providers. This virtual event will also feature inspirational speakers (themselves sarcoma patients), and bring a bit of fun into what can be a very serious topic. Register for the Gala on our website event page.

Join us as we honor outstanding professionals in the field of sarcoma. This virtual event will be held on Dec.10 at 6pm and features an awards ceremony, in  addition to presentations given by those who have walked the GIST journey as patients, caregivers, and friends.

The series is made possible by the generous support of our sponsors Credit Suisse, Jeffries LLC, Pfizer Oncology, and Morgan Stanley: