The members’ meeting, held in Liverpool on the 12th March, was really well attended in spite of the best attempts of the cold, snowy weather to affect attendance. 58 members and volunteers were present to meet and listen to Professor Andrew Pettitt and members of the haematology nursing team from the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.
Professor Pettitt opened the day with the keynote speech: “ CLL – recent progress and future challenges”. The presentation covered the biology of CLL, clinical features, prognostic factors, treatment, unmet needs and clinical trials. The talk was both comprehensive and accessible and stimulated interesting discussion as members were encouraged to intervene with questions or comments during the course of his talk. He emphasised the importance of CLL patients becoming involved in trials when they commence treatment and illustrated the enormous progress that has been made in understanding and treating haematological cancers over the past 20 years.
Professor Pettitt certainly communicated his excitement and optimism about the development of the new treatments that are currently entering trials which he hopes will become available in the next few years.
During lunch, members were able to meet and get to know each other more. Many also took advantage to browse through the excellent resources that were on display and available from LLR and Macmillan.
Jane Tinsley, one of the research nurses in Professor Pettitt’s team, opened proceedings in the afternoon with a presentation on the range of trials currently running in the hospital and outlined the size and scope of the haematology team. She explained the purpose of each of the trials and explained the detailed protocols and procedures that need to be followed for each trial. Using the Arctic trial as an example, she explained the preparatory tests, the drug regime and the detailed monitoring and support that are provided for each patient in the trial.
Jane then introduced one of her patients who described his CLL history and shared his experiences of undergoing the Arctic trial. He explained the side effects he had experienced and was really complimentary about the quality of care and attention he received whenever problems were encountered. It was particularly interesting and impressive to read the results of blood tests for the patient from original diagnosis to those taken at the beginning of the trial and after the first cycle.
Group discussion was the last session of the day and members were able to share their own CLL experiences and talked about the issues raised in the different sessions. The lively discussions exemplified the active involvement of the members throughout the day and the evaluation returns were overwhelmingly positive about all aspects the organisation and content of the conference.