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Educating Physician Assistants

Conner O'Brien

Conner O’Brien

Dr. Christian Ogilvie

Christian Ogilvie, MD

On February 10, 2021 rhabdomyosarcoma survivor, Conner O’Brien, and University of Minnesota orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Christian Ogilvie, shared their time with the class of 2022 physician assistant students from Bethel University via Zoom to bring forth awareness and education on sarcoma and the impact it may have on the medical provider.

At the start of the session, Connor walked the students through his sarcoma story from diagnosis to remission. He spoke vulnerably about his experience with rhabdomyosarcoma and how the special relationship that he developed with his oncology PA impacted him during his treatment. The students then had a Q & A with Connor and asked a variety of questions in what it was like getting diagnosed with and having cancer, going through treatment, his support system, his involvement with Rein in Sarcoma, and even what kind of diet he had during treatment!

After Conner’s session, Dr. Ogilvie presented education on types of sarcoma, populations affected, and how they present clinically. He shared an inspiring candid view of how he got into this specific field of medicine. His passion could be seen as he talked about some of the experiences he has had over the years.

The Bethel PA students were very appreciative of Conner and Dr. Ogilvie’s time and their willingness to share their personal stories and education about sarcoma. Sarcoma is an insidious cancer that is often not emphasized to students entering into a provider role. They may read about it in textbooks, but giving a face and a genuine story about the impact of this disease makes it more personal for the PA who is providing the care, and thus more memorable as to not miss the diagnosis.

Through the relationship between Bethel University and Rein in Sarcoma, PA students now have sarcoma education they can implement in their future practice that they would not have otherwise had before this encounter. Because of this, the likelihood these PAs will be able to recognize sarcoma when they see it in the future is increased. Through the relationship between these two organizations, future sarcoma patients may have a better outcome and/or experience because PAs graduating from Bethel University had this opportunity during their training.   

– Written by Jennifer Gribble, PA Student Class of 2022

Volunteer Spotlight – Yatharth Sharma

Yatharth Sharma

Student volunteer Yatharth Sharma is only a junior in high school, but he has made significant contributions to Rein in Sarcoma. He serves on the Public Relations and Marketing Committee and has been an RIS volunteer for nearly two years. Yatharth has collaborated on a social media campaigns, writing articles, and revising patient materials.

In July 2020, Yatharth worked on the Sarcoma Awareness Month Social Media Campaign. For this project, he researched, created content and posted information called “31 Sarcoma Facts.” He also wrote several posts highlighting RIS research grants. The posts were very informational, highly engaging and well received. This project was one of Yatharth’s favorites to work on as he was able to learn more about sarcoma, develop graphic design skills, and collaborate with enthusiastic team members.   

Early this year, Yatharth and Elsa Keeler, MD, MPH, were published in the January/February issue of Minnesota Medicine – “Cancer During COVID: Balancing Medical Decisions.” He is currently collaborating with Dr. Keeler and the Jan Maudlin Scholars on updating and redesigning the Sarcoma Patient Starter Notebook. He is excited about creating a comprehensive, streamlined and useful resources for patients newly diagnosed with sarcoma. Yatharth says he volunteers for these projects because of “the satisfaction and contentment I feel from being able to work with a team to make a positive impact on people who have been through so much.” 

Yatharth attends Mounds View High School and is a member of the tennis team, Science Olympiad, Synergy Environmental Club, National Honor Society, and the school newspaper. We are lucky to have such a talented student as a part of our community. Yatharth has a bright future ahead and we look forward to seeing what he accomplishes!

Volunteer Spotlight – Dr. Larry Seymour

Dr. John L. Seymour

Dr. Larry Seymour’s contributions to Rein in Sarcoma (RIS) have been countless. From physician, to board member, to Research Committee Chair, Dr. Seymour’s expertise and dedication have been invaluable. He has been a member of the RIS community for nearly 10 years and his passion for the RIS mission is evident in every task he undertakes. We are grateful to have him a part of our RIS community.

As a physician, Dr. Seymour articulated the importance of the need for sarcoma research. There are more the 50 subtypes types of soft tissue sarcoma, approximately 20 bone sarcomas. The rarity and complexity of sarcoma, shows the importance of the need for research to understand the genetic make-up and viable treatment options. He took the time to advocate and educate others on this important need and has helped RIS drive our research mission and grow researcher relationships.

RIS received a substantial gift from the Barbara Bradley Baekgaard Family Foundation to establish the Hallie Anne Brown Sarcoma Educational Initiative. As a result of this gift, Dr. Seymour (Hallie’s grandfather) helped established a task force of sarcoma doctors and researchers to determine the most appropriate process to expand RIS Sarcoma research funding beyond the University of Minnesota to other major medical research centers in the Midwest and nationwide. He became the chair of this taskforce, which ultimately became the RIS Research Committee.

In December, Dr. Seymour stepped down as Chair of the Research Committee. Under his leadership, the committee expanded funding from the University of Minnesota to the Mayo Clinic and Children’s Minnesota. The committee established research collaborations, initiated a sarcoma researcher symposium, and built the foundation for connecting sarcoma researchers to increase the impact.

Thank you, Dr. Seymour, for your dedication and support!

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