In February of this year, the first annual FACTOR conference was held and my wife and I attended. It is a grass roots organization started by three people to bring together oncologists, scientists, survivors of osteosarcoma, those under treatment and parents of those being treated. It is unique in that it brought together in one place many people interested in furthering osteosarcoma treatment. FACTOR means: Funding; Awareness; Collaboration; Trials; Osteosarcoma; Research.
In this two-day event there were many scientific papers presented, as well as many breakout sessions for such things as meetings of kids under treatment; grief sessions for parents. One of the papers was presented by Theresa Beech, a unique aerospace engineer, who had pulled together many of the genetic abnormalities of osteosarcoma, had talked with experts around the country and was acting as a focal point for discussion, and ultimately new therapies.
Two presentations were given by researchers from the University of Minnesota, Drs. Logan Spector, and Branden Moriarty. These related to a registry for Osteosarcoma. Many other papers were given over the two days of the conference. There were presenters from NIH (National Institutes of Health); Memorial Sloan Kettering (in NYC); University of Miami Comprehensive Cancer Centers (The sponsors for the site of the conference); and many other areas.
This organization has the promise to be a site for funding of OS research, as well as a place where information can be collected, summarized, and spread nationally, even internationally. Even more, it was attended by long term survivors of OS ( my wife and I had lunch with a young woman who was 11 years post surgical amputation and walked with a prosthesis with almost no limp); we talked with the parents of an 11 year old boy who had had his left arm removed two years prior, and who was actively involved in baseball (and ongoing treatment).
This conference is for anyone who has a connection to osteosarcoma… parents and patients, both those undergoing treatment, and long term survivors. If you have an interest in the meeting next year, contact me through RIS and I will get the information to you.
John L. Seymour MD