Julia Gomes - CAPhO19 Summary Report

As a fourth-year pharmacy student with limited exposure to the world of clinical oncology pharmacy beyond the classroom, there is no doubt that I was showered with a wealth of new information at the CAPhO Conference 2019. With the opening plenary being “The evolution of adjuvant systemic therapy for the treatment of breast cancer”, I found that it really set the stage for why all of us were there—to keep pushing forward in a rapidly changing, sometimes murky, dynamic field. I was blown away with the progress we’ve made in the last 50 years, and the thought of what we will accomplish in the next 50 years is nothing short of exciting. 

A topic that I found interesting to hear about was infertility risk reduction in female patients. I previously had limited knowledge surrounding what cryopreservation really is, how it works, the cost (yikes!), and what patients can expect. Something that really took me by surprise is how sometimes these infertility talks/education with patients can fall through the cracks as we are focused on treating their cancer and that in some cases, the pharmacist has actually been the first health care provider to initiate an infertility talk with a patient, which again, surprised me. For me, as a young female wanting a family in the future, this presentation really put you in the shoes of the patient, and just how important it is to support and ensure appropriate education is provided from all angles. As even a risk of infertility can be a deal breaker with some patients, it is ultimately our responsibility as health care providers to ensure patients are making informed decisions regarding their cancer treatment plan.

One of my favourite presentations was on “Microbiome, cancer and Immunotherapy”, as I have heard about microbiome in context of other health fields but had never really thought about its role in cancer. I’m excited to see how pharmacists could play a role in patient education regarding how antibiotic use, PPI use and diet can alter the microbiome, which can potentially have consequences such as increasing resistance to immunotherapy. However, maybe a fecal transplant could overcome this—how cool is that?

I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to showcase my research poster during the poster presentations, as it was truly one of the most enriching experiences I’ve had as a pharmacy student. I appreciate the interest and discussion pertaining to my poster and received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and some excellent suggestions. I think that having the collaboration of different viewpoints will supplement my research and potential future research opportunities. I felt honoured to be standing beside some other research posters that were nothing short of impressive and I will without a doubt help us continue pushing forward in all of our oncology practice. 

One of my personal favourite posters was: “Assessing the impact of a layered learning practice model on the delivery of clinical pharmacy key performance indicators (cpKPIs) within an inpatient oncology unit of a tertiary care centre” by Jason Wentzell et al. which concluded that integrating pharmacy students may not only facilitate cpKPI’s but also may increase the amount of resolved DTPs compared to current practice. Although I may be biased as a student, I found it greatly encouraging that the presence of students may not compromise productivity and may actually improve patient care while also optimizing the learning experience for the student.

The greatest take away that the CAPhO Conference 2019 gave me was encouragement and confidence to continue pursuing my dream career as an oncology conference. Having the opportunity to participate in poster presentations next to some of the most exciting areas of oncology research, I was blown away with the diverse, stimulating conversations that make research so great. The conference made me eager rather than anxious to be starting my career later this year and I am truly grateful that I was able to attend CAPhO Conference 2019 alongside a group of passionate, encouraging clinical oncology pharmacists.

Julia Gomes
PharmD. Candidate, 2019
University of Waterloo