Emens’ immunotherapy update & more MBC Conference Highlights

“Empowerment Through Education” is the theme of this year’s MBCN National Conference at Johns Hopkins (Baltimore). The free conference kicks off with a reception on Oct. 28 and full-day session on Oct. 29.

Johns Hopkins University medical and research experts will speak on the latest treatments and promising research for metastatic breast cancer. Some scholarships are available to defray travel and lodging costs.

Family, friends, caregivers, etc. are welcome.

Prior to attending last year’s conference in Indianapolis, I had only met two other people with mets and only in passing. It was really great to be around people who “get it.”

And what a great opportunity to hear from Dr. Leisha Emens–one of the leading breast cancer researchers. Dr. Emens is currently testing a vaccine composed of breast cancer cells genetically modified to secrete the immune-stimulating hormone granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF).

These breast cancer cells can incite an immune response to HER-2/neu, as well as many other breast tumor antigens. GM-CSF delivered in close proximity to the vaccinating breast tumor cells breaks the ignorance of the immune system for breast cancer, re-educating it to recognize breast cancer cells as dangerous and destroy them. (Darby Steadman of Driving Miss Darby is a patient of Dr. Emens.)

Also looking forward to hearing from Lillie Shockney, Administrative Director of Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center. Lillie is the c0-author of 100 Questions & Answers About Advanced and Metastatic Breast Cancer. This book was a huge help to me when I was first diagnosed. I am pretty sure I asked my oncologist all 100 questions. Very concise and easy to understand–it was just what I needed.

Hope to meet many of you at the conference. You can get more info here:


Agenda for 2011 Metastatic Breast Cancer Network National Conference (“Empowerment through Education”)

Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center

Baltimore, Maryland

October 29, 2011



Registration and Continental Breakfast



Michele Przypyszny, President of Metastatic Breast Cancer Network

Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S., Administrative Director of Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center


Breakout Session I: Understanding Metastatic Breast Cancer: Biology, Treatment, Monitoring

A discussion of MBC biology, diagnosis, current treatment, long term strategy, tests and monitoring. The session is divided into two groups based on your knowledge and familiarity with the disease

(choose A or B)

A: MBC 101- Become Informed

Robert S. Miller, M.D.

Associate Professor of Oncology, JHU

Geared toward newly diagnosed or those attending their first conference who would benefit from a comprehensive, basic introduction

B: MBC 201- Broaden Your Knowledge

Carolyn Hendricks, M.D.

Oncologist in Private Practice in Bethesda, MD

For those who have been living with mbc for a while and have attended other metastatic conferences.


Ask the Experts:

Carolyn Hendricks, M.D. Robert Miller, M.D. Richard Zellars, M.D.

Three oncologists answer your questions




Breakout Session II: (choose one)

* C: Bone Metastases
o Richard Zellars, M.D.
o Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences
o Associate Professor of Oncology, JHU
o Discussion of bone mets including treatment, role of radiation, pain management, skeletal events, zolendronic acid vs. denosumab, role of vitamin D3, magnesium and calcium.

* D: Role of Surgery in Soft Tissue Metastases
o Kenzo Hirose, M.D.
o Assistant Professor of Surgery, JHU
o Risks vs. benefits of surgery for soft tissue mets; role of radio frequency ablation in treatment of liver mets and surgical approaches for lung and brain mets.

* E: Managing Side Effects of Treatment
o Carol Riley, R.N., M.S.N., C.R.N.P.
o Nelli Zafman, C.R.N.P.
o Nurse Practitioners at the Avon Foundation Breast Center at JHU
o How to deal with nausea, insomnia, menopause, fatigue, neuropathy, hair loss and other side effects.





Leisha Emens, M.D., Ph.D

Associate Professor of Oncology, JHU

Discussion of the immune system and the role of immunotherapy in the treatment of mbc. Dr. Emens will share a progress report of her clinical trials to enhance the immune system of mbc patients through vaccination.


Breakout Session III: (choose one)

* F: Role of the Caregiver
o Lynn Billing, BSN, CHPN
o Nurse Co-ordinator, Kimmel Cancer Center, JHU
o Discussion of issues and coping strategies for the caregiver: support, decision-making, stress, family and friends.

* G: Nutrition and Wellness
o Linda Lee, M.D.
o Assistant Professor of Medicine, JHU
Director, Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine & Digestive Center
Clinical Director, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
o Explore issues such as effect of weight loss, low fat and low sugar diet, dietary supplements, vitamins and stress relievers such as yoga, exercise and journaling.

* H: Living with MBC
o Joani Gudeman LCSW, PsyD, Moderator
o A panel of metastatic women will share their strategies for dealing with anxiety and uncertainty; moderated by an experienced psychotherapist who has been living with mbc since 2008. There will be time for questions.

* I: How to Navigate Social Security Disability: A Patient’s Perspective
o CJ (Dian) Corneliussen-James
o Co-Founder/President of METAVivor Research and Support, Inc.
o Did you know that most women and men with metastatic breast cancer qualify for Social Security Disability and can obtain benefits fairly quickly? Ask questions and learn more about the process from a fellow patient who has experience helping others navigate the SSDI system.




Clinical Trials vs. Standard of Care

Tatiana M. Prowell, M.D.

Instructor of Oncology, Part-time Medical Oncology Faculty, JHU

An examination of clinical trials vs standard of care; risks and benefits of these approaches; what to ask your doctor; how to find and select a clinical trial; rules of qualification; and impact of prior treatments on acceptance. A list of trials at Johns Hopkins will be shared.


Cutting Edge Research

Stephen Baylin, M.D.

Deputy Director, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins
Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research
Professor of Oncology and Medicine, JHU

Hear about the latest innovative research including mapping the genome, epigenetics, stem cells, and the future of personalized therapy.


Closing Remarks

Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S., Administrative Director of Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center

Michele Przypyszny, President of Metastatic Breast Cancer Network



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3 thoughts on “Emens’ immunotherapy update & more MBC Conference Highlights

  1. I am *thrilled* to find this blog. Also! I was in the second group of lucky ladies to get Dr. Emens’ vax. I HATE BREAST CANCER! -Mary Valle @marykvalle

  2. I’m going! I can’t wait to see you there!

  3. katherinembc says:

    Awesome, Susan! Look forward to meeting you!

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