In early November I was pleased to attend the Annual Scientific Meeting of COSAin Sydney. This three day multidisciplinary conference was preceded by a professional learning workshop on Enhanced Supportive Cancer Care. This was a fascinating and informative exploration of non-pharmacological approaches to symptom control, such as acupuncture, oncology massage and mindfulness. The use of medicinal cannabis was also discussed in detail, as was the emerging knowledge of the importance of the gut microbiome.
The conference itself was focussed largely around the theme of immunotherapies. Some of the highlights of sessions I attended included the increasing levels of evidence supporting exercise as an integral part of cancer management, use of patient reported outcomes in more than just a research context (and innovative ways of making our health care systems more responsive to real-time patient issues), and a wonderful presentation by our own consumer, Grant Mundell, who spoke eloquently about his experience of being cared for by a multidisciplinary team, and the importance of this to the quality of his overall management.
However the highlight of a large conference such as this is the opportunity to connect with many different professionals involved in the care of NETs across Australia, and COSA was wonderful in this regard. I met many key oncologists and nursing and allied health professionals, and was able to have some really fruitful conversations that will lead to improved referrals and collaborative partnerships.
One person I was so glad to spend time with was Paul Katris, from the Western Australian Clinical Oncology Group, who very sadly lost his life on the way home from the conference. Paul was a long time supporter of our Perth support group and central in helping us organise patient events and forums. The news of his death was a shock, and we send our condolences and love to his colleagues and family. Paul will be greatly missed and remembered as a wonderful ally of people affected by cancer, both locally in Western Australia and nationally.