It wasn’t held in a fancy hotel. It lasted only one day. The cuisine was box lunch and soft drinks. But somehow, this conference subtitled Prostate Cancer: Dealing with the Issues, caught people’s imagination. As early as 7:00 a.m. they started pouring into Los Angeles’s USC/Norris Health Sciences Campus, and they soon filled both of the auditoriums that had been reserved for the event. In all, almost 800 people came and listened to the outstanding faculty that the PCRI had attracted to present information that clearly these attendees wanted to hear. The Mayer Auditorium has 450 seats, and the total of pre-registered and walk-in attendees totaled 426. That made for a tight fit, although eased somewhat by the use of large TV monitors in public areas.
In the nearby 150-seat Hastings Auditorium, monitors were essential because some 330 Spanish-speaking people clamored to hear about prostate cancer and its treatment options in their own language. After delivering his introduction to prostate cancer talk in English in the Mayer Auditorium, Moderator Dr. Mark Scholz rushed over to the Hastings Auditorium and delivered that same talk in Spanish. Then he and PCRI Staff Member Victor Grimaldo answered questions for literally hours.
The response to the PCRI’s offer of PSA testing at no charge and with same-day results was even more astonishing. Overall, over 400 men – walk-ins as well as attendees – took advantage of the offer. The acceptance was particularly strong among the Spanish-speaking men; 248 of them – more than 70% – were tested, many of them for the first time. There is an explanation for this. PCRI’s Victor Grimaldo had interested Antonio Gonzalez in the project, and this Spanish language radio station personality repeatedly exhorted his listeners over the air to take advantage of this free testing.
Since this was a regional conference, most of the attendees came from California. But there were notable exceptions. Three men came all the way from Turkey, and one of them came a day early to get advance information in preparation for the conference. And both Patrick Kavanaugh, who came from Florida, and Herbert Van Dyke, who came from Minnesota, were attending their second PCRI conference. Van Dyke, who has been following a course of watchful waiting since he was first diagnosed in 1998, relies on the PCRI as an important source of the information he needs to keep close track of prostate cancer developments. Not only is this his second PCRI conference (he intends to attend the National Conference on Prostate Cancer 2005 as well), but he has been a subscriber to Insights since 2000.
Clearly, these PCRI conferences are important and useful to people dealing with prostate cancer. There were a number of instances of wives or of sons or daughters coming alone to the conference to learn things about their man’s disease so that they could be proactive even if he was reluctant to do so. And many attendees gave up other activities to attend. Consider Al and Margaret Clark who came to the conference on their 44th wedding anniversary.
Maintaining Conference Quality
At this conference, the PCRI again solicited an evaluation and comments from the attendees. The staff studies these responses, and makes use of this feedback in organizing, staffing, and administering future ones. We received some very good unsolicited comments too. Attendee Dot Qua told us, “I was really impressed to see something so well done.”
The doctors who spoke and patiently answered questions certainly contributed greatly to this feeling. The PCRI is grateful to the contributions of Drs. Mark Scholz, Duke Bahn, Glenn Tisman, Mark Kawachi, Lisa Chaiken, Gary Leach, and Stephen Auerbach, Stan Brosman and authors Ralph and Barbara Alterowitz. And the volunteers were nearly flawless, even though faced with the unanticipated increase in attendance. Since they were unobtrusive as well as efficient, you may not even have noticed:
Glenn Weaver and the PCRI staff would like to thank the volunteers listed above, without whom, the conference would not have been as much of a success! Special thanks go to the phlebotomists and lab technician who kept the PSA blood draws flowing:
Finally, PCRI would especially like to thank our Sponsors and Exhibitors:
Community Memorial Hospital of Ventura, CA
Prostate Institute of America (PIA)
Diagnostic Products Corp.
TAP Pharmaceutical Products
Augusta Medical Systems
American Cancer Society
American Medical Systems
Life Extension Foundation
Prostate Cancer Climb