From 1-15 September 2011, I completed a training activity through the iCMLf and its partner, the Max Foundation. The training included the sponsorship of a patient assistance program, giving free access to the CML treatment through the GIPAP program. We were honored to be welcomed at the facilities of the Hematology and Cell Therapy Division, directed by Prof. François-Xavier Mahon.
Our training began by attending the monthly multidisciplinary meeting located in the Hematology lab at the University of Bordeaux. The Hematology clinicians from various institutions met: Dr. Etienne Gabriel from the Cancer Center of Bergonié, Prof Mariet from Haut Lêvque and Drs. Eric Lippert and Stephanie Dulucq from the research team of Prof. Mahon. During the meeting, the cases of several patients were reviewed, addressing challenges regarding diagnostic and therapeutic management.
We also traveled to the Cytogenics Lab of the Haut Leveque Hospital. Our day began with a daily meeting on the demands of karyotyping, attended by experts, technicians and interns. Personally, I appreciated this as it allowed us, medical professionals in developing countries, to learn about the economy of care. Also on this day, we paid a visit to the service itself with its Centralized Biology unit, a tumor biobank where biological samples are kept. Here, Drs. Lippert and Dulucq introduced me to the karyotype and molecular biology monitoring curves of CML patients.
I had the honor of attending a few of Prof Mahon’s consultations in the Division of Blood Disorders at Haut Leveque Hospital. The consultations proved to be very diverse: CML, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, idiopathic hypereosinophilic syndrome, among others. It was very interesting to learn about low doses of Imatinib used in the treatment of idiopathic hypereosinophilic syndrome. In the afternoon we moved to the Institut Bergonié with Dr. Etienne Gabriel, where I stayed until the next day in order to attend consultations and to visit hospitalized patients. During a consultation with Prof Mahon, we talked at length about the STIM study. We were able to see some of the patients involved in this study, which is giving hope to CML patients, much to the joy of Prof. Mahon, the study’s initiator.
I was also able to visit the sterile area of the Division of Blood Disorders under Prof. Milpied where I was able to see patients who have received allografts. I was very surprised to see myeloma allografts.
The second week of training began with a schedule identical to the first week: consultations, hospital and laboratory visits. This week seemed shorter than the first, which was unfortunate because I was just beginning to get used to the routine and to the team there.
I finished this training with many ideas, and a wish is to transfer these benefits brought about by advances in treatment to my patients, and to give them the hope that they too can be healed from CML. The main problem that I encounter in my daily practice in caring for my CML patients, especially regarding compliance to their treatment, is that they often have no clue about the details of their health status, which is the only information that I can use to reassure them that they are improving.
Now, as I leave this training, I hope to be able to see how we can use molecular biology in our daily practice. But because incorporating this new aspect of practice will not be an easy task, my recommendation is that, together with Prof. Mahon, we train a Senegalese technician to perform the pre-analytical phase of our patient’s molecular biology, with the support of iCMLf.
I will close by thanking Nicola Evans, Professor François-Xavier Mahon (or "F.X." as the members of his team affectionately call him) a very open and spontaneous person with whom I will be honored to continue research development in Senegal, Dr. Eric Lippert who is very competent and instructive, the tireless Dr. Etienne Gabriel, very meticulous in his approach as an internist, which I appreciate having completed almost the same career path, Dr. Stéphanie Dulucq, for her generosity and openness, and all the personnel from the Cytogenic Lab at Haut Leveque Hospital.
Thank you all so much, because of you, I will never forget this tremendous experience!