Members of Bristol and Beyond Asbestos Family Support Group enjoyed an informative day of presentations, conversations and even some bingo at the 9th Annual Patient and Carer Conference held at Bristol Zoo on 5th April. Many members also walked away with some excellent raffle prizes, raising over £133 for support group activities.
This is a really special group that offers an invaluable place to talk with other sufferers, carers or family members and build firm friendships. New members are always welcome from a very wide area.
The 80 people attending the meeting gained valuable insights from mesothelioma specialist healthcare professionals. The meeting was hosted by Sarah Smith, Mesothelioma and Lung CNS from North Bristol.
Jo Hargrave, Mesothelioma UK Clinical Nurse Specialist Lung at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London started the day with a presentation about surgical options as part of multi-modality treatment for mesothelioma. Although surgery is not curative, it can add to life expectancy and may increase quality of life. The current ongoing surgical clinical trial is MARS2 and patients who are interested in this are encouraged to speak to their treating physicians or Mesothelioma UK for information about the trial.
Dr Amelia Clive, Consultant in Thoracic Medicine at North Bristol NHS Trust, followed with a run through of the current UK practice in mesothelioma diagnosis and treatment. The British Thoracic Society Guidelines were published last year and these set out the best practice for each stage of the patient pathway. Implementation of the recommendations in these guidelines is helping the medical profession to really move forward in improving treatment for those with mesothelioma.
Dr Anna Bibby, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at North Bristol NHS Trust, presented an overview of the current clinical trials which have something to offer at all steps of the patient pathway. The presentation included an easy to follow James Bond analogy as to how immunotherapy treatments work. Full details of all ongoing trials across the country are found within the Mesothelioma UK newsletter and website. Patients can contact Mesothelioma UK for more information or discuss the trials with their treating physicians.
The final presentation was given by Karen Gough, Macmillan Welfare Benefits Advisor in Bath and North East Somerset, who discussed the state benefits which might be available to those suffering with asbestos related conditions to mitigate financial hardship and make life easier. Karen highly recommended that patients seek advice from a benefits advisor about their individual circumstances.
After an exceptionally tasty lunch, coffee and conversation, the members were split into groups which gave everyone the opportunity to discuss their own concerns and issues with other members who have been through the same thing. The group discussions were facilitated by the medical experts who were on hand to answer any questions.
Finally, the day drew to a close with an unexpected round of bingo. Lucky winners took away bottles of champagne and garden centre vouchers and all members were invited to visit the zoo free of charge.