Monday, December 8, 2014

My San Francisco Get-Away

Here I am in San Francisco! The reason I'm here is to attend the American Society of Hematology convention. There are, like, 20,000 people attending this thing and I love it.

So here's the rundown. On Friday, William and I flew from Salt Lake to Oakland, took BART into the city, and met up with my former college roomie, Jen, who lives here. I saw Jen over the summer. I was truly the worse roommate on the planet when Jen and I lived together. Jen actually went to college to study; I don't know why I initially went to college other than it was expected and I wanted out of my small town. So I showed up and partied like a rock star. Like out of control partying, drinking most every night, and generally making Jen's life miserable. I loved Jen to death, she just didn't stay up all night and partake in drinking games. She left halfway through our sophomore year and came back to San Francisco and eventually got her PhD in psychology from USF. I eventually graduated from college, too. And Jen and I have remained friends ever since. It was awesome seeing her again. The last time I was here was when Morgan and I had to get her Russian passport renewed ASAP just prior to flying to Moscow to pick up Siena in 2008. Since then, Jen and her hubby and three children moved from one house to a new one. This was the first time I've seen this home and it's beautiful, in a great part of the city, and has a private apartment downstairs that they don't rent out. We adults went out to dinner and the next day, Jen dropped us off at our hotel, which is just a couple blocks from the Moscone Center where the convention is taking place.

On Saturday, I hit the ground running, attending sessions and perusing the convention floor. I learned a lot, met some cool people and then met up with Jenny, myeloma patients and advocates Jack Aiello and Pat Killingsworth for dinner on the waterfront. I knew Pat and Jack because they are very visible in the myeloma community, hosting radio programs, doing guest speaking gigs, and the like. We had a very important meeting about the importance of raising money to fund clinical trials for myeloma.

Last night, William and I went back to Jen's and we decorated their Christmas tree with the husband and children. I will say that Jen and Tim are awesome parents and their children are so kind. Hanging out with them has been amazing. I love San Francisco, and I love them.

Sunday was more learning, and then getting a massage and shopping with William. And today, I've been at the convention since before 7:00 AM!

My biggest two take-aways from this convention are this: 1) Clinical trials!! We MUST be willing to participate in trials. First, in doing so, we are NOT guinea pigs! We get the best treatments plus the next potential new one. And, second, without trial participation, no new drugs or treatments are going to happen.  And 2) No fear! I hate myeloma. I wouldn't wish this journey on anyone. But I do not fear this disease. I am awestruck by its power and evilness. But there are so many treatments in the pipeline, and that makes it exciting.