In general, our days at ASH 2023 started with an early morning wake-up, partially due to my East Coast home and West Coast time zone, but I was awake every morning around 4AM. This gave me time to sip coffee, finalize my choices of what presentations to attend that day, and start my notes pages for the day.

San Diego Harbor

A big part of attending ASH is staying organized with schedules and your best way of taking in information and absorbing it. Some of us live tweet during the presentations; some of us take pictures of certain slides and information and distribute it later. Some participate in asking questions at the sessions directly to the researchers themselves. This year I used the ASH app to organize my thoughts and schedule, and it even allowed note-taking on each abstract as well. This was a big-time saver for me and I was able to use only my iPad during the day going from one location to another. I can’t tell you how many photos are on my phone and iPad of slides from those presentations, but it is a TON!

All the support group leaders at ASH met in a private room at the restaurant in our hotel every morning for a working breakfast. We set up a Zoom with our virtual leaders and sat together, all 14 of us, and brainstormed and planned our attacks of the day. We spoke about what impacted us from the day prior and what we were excited about for today. We talked about our general plan for the day, including meals together, sponsor meetings, vlogging opportunities, what we were going to film that day, and most importantly, what presentations each leader was planning to attend. There were times at ASH this year where up to 7 simultaneous myeloma sessions were scheduled! We tried to divide and conquer and then share the information learned in order to benefit the entire group. Many impactful conversations were had at these working meetings between in-person and virtual leaders.

Oya Gilbert and Carri Helman at ASH

After our working breakfast meeting, it was time to head to the San Diego Convention Center or adjoining hotel meeting rooms to start programming for the day. Our hotel was about a mile and a half from the SDCC, but most of us walked in the morning along the waterfront. The weather was beautiful, around 72 degrees in mid-December, quite a far cry from mid-December in Pennsylvania where I’m from! The views were absolutely beautiful and fantastic conversations between leaders made that walk feel like nothing!

Walking to the San Diego Convention Center

Becky Bosley and Tuohys in front of Joy sculpture

And as much of a Myeloma geek as I am, walking around San Diego surrounded by all of our Myeloma rock stars felt like we were amongst celebrities. Those specialists that we all look up to so much and are so excited to hear speak! Sometimes… just run into them on the street!

Our friends from iStopMM!

Tuohys, iStopMM team, and Becky Bosley

Sometimes, you find them just “hanging around!”

Michael and Robin Tuohy showcasing photo of Dr. Joesph Mikhael

Sometimes, you find them presenting on POWERFUL information about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in trials for myeloma.

And sometimes, they are your own myeloma specialist, there to learn information that will DIRECTLY affect your care!

We spent hours upon hours listening to oral abstracts, poster abstract presentations, scientific sessions, and education offerings. Absorbing every word and taking in the information minute by minute.

We asked questions and interacted with presenters.

We talked strategy….and had a bit of fun along the way!

Becky Bosley and Jon Fitzpatrick
Becky Bosley and Robin Tuohy playing life-sized checkers.
Becky Bosley and Robin Tuohy playing life-sized checkers.

Our nurse expert, Teresa Miceli made it to #6 on the #ASH23 “X” leader board!

We walked through the massive exhibit hall when we had some downtime between presentations. We visited with the IMF’s InfoLine Coordinator, Paul Hewitt at the IMF booth.

ASH Exhibit Hall

We even ran into our friend and colleague Hayley Beer from Myeloma Australia!

Robin Tuohy, Becky Bosley, Hayley Beer in front of Christmas tree

We enjoyed meals together and late-night walks back to the hotel after the day’s programming. I will cherish this time with friends and colleagues as some of my favorites of ASH23. To be able to share in the excitement of the experience and talk about the impact that ASH had on each of us was so empowering!

ASH Support Group Leader team at dinner

On Monday night, our last night at ASH, we held a Facebook Live event with Dr. Joe Mikhael, discussing our questions and areas of most impact and interest from ASH. This event was very successful and many of you tuned in to watch us live, and have since watched the replay. This was so gracious of Dr. Joe to give us this time, as his time is so limited at ASH, and we were so grateful to have him answer our questions, as only he can!

Dr. Joseph Mikhael and IMF Support Group Leaders
Dr. Joesph Mikhael with IMF Support Group Leaders at ASH.

As we wrapped up our last night in San Diego at ASH 23, the sky waved goodbye to us with its brilliant display of colors. I think I can see HOPE spelled out there in the clouds….that is what we are all filled with after this experience. Hope…for the future and joy for what we have in the world of myeloma research now!

San Diego Sunset