The 4th International Consensus Conference for Advanced Breast Cancer (ABC4) is organised by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the European School of Oncology (ESO) and took place on 2-4 November in Lisbon, Portugal. On this occasion, UICC and Pfizer held a one-day interactive workshop, gathering the recently awarded 2017 SPARC grantees and some of those awarded in 2015 to share experiences and best practices.
Launched in partnership with Pfizer on World Cancer Day 2015, the Seeding Progress and Resources for the Cancer Community (SPARC) Metastatic Breast Cancer Challenge aims at addressing the specific needs of women living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) around the world. In 2015, twenty competitively selected organisations were funded to implement novel and sustainable projects focusing on the unique challenges facing MBC patients in their country. In October 2017, a further twenty projects benefited from a new round of grants.
Pfizer’s workshop in Lisbon provided participants with the opportunity to meet fellow awardees and discover their projects, share experiences and learn from previously awarded SPARC grantees.
A panel discussion chaired by Eva Schumacher-Wulf from the German online breast cancer magazine “MammaMia!” allowed SPARC awardees from 2015 and their mentors to share their experiences and lessons learned. Gertude Nakigudde from Uganda Women’s Cancer Support Organisation explained how her project analysed the clinical and psychological needs of MBC patients and how carers, survivors, clinicians, healthcare professional and policy makers were made aware of those needs in order to reduce the gap existing between patients, carers and community workers. Bertha Aguilar shared her experiences in raising awareness about the challenges facing women with MBC in Mexico. Through the SPARC grant, the Cimab Foundation launched an online platform providing information to patients and carers.
The workshop provided SPARC awardees with a better understanding of what to expect from this UICC capacity building initiative and how to make the most of it.
“It was a great opportunity for us to meet and share with fellow participants who will be undergoing the same programme and potentially facing similar challenges. I particularly enjoyed this feeling that we - a Nigerian organisation - are part of a wider global movement in which we have a meaningful role to play” explains Ebele Nwankwo from Run for a Cure Africa Breast Cancer Foundation, one of the twenty organisations receiving a SPARC grant in 2017.
Fatima Cardoso, Chair of the SPARC Selection Advisory Group, closed the workshop with an inspirational speech highlighting the great success of the 2015 SPARC programme and encouraging the new awardees to fully embrace the opportunity and learning experience.
Following the one-day workshop, awardees were invited to join Fatima Cardoso and UICC at the ABC4 conference that brought together MBC patients, cancer advocates, clinicians and healthcare professionals to develop international consensus guidelines for the management of MBC patients.
On Saturday and Sunday, UICC attended the ABC Global Alliance’s first meeting and joined the discussion around the recently launched ABC Global Charter, a new initiative of ESO setting out ten clear goals to drive global improvements in MBC care and survival by 2025. UICC welcomes this action-oriented initiative, which will also help build momentum and raise global awareness of the needs of all cancer patients diagnosed with late stage disease.