Free conference focuses on cancer in young adults

(Des Moines, IA) – The loss of Des Moines University student Katherine M. Miller in 2005 to colorectal cancer has prompted a new focus for an annual student-organized cancer conference at Des Moines University.

The February 15 conference begins at 6:30 p.m. with a free dinner followed by presentations from two physicians. At 8 p.m. a panel of young adult cancer survivors will take questions from the audience. The event is in the Des Moines University Student Education Center Auditorium, 3300 Grand Ave. in Des Moines.

This free conference is open to the public and sponsored by the Des Moines University (DMU) Sigma Sigma Phi chapter. The conference will be of particular interest to anyone with an interest in health and wellness topics or someone who knows a young adult with cancer.

“Sigma Sigma Phi (SSP) is excited to offer this year’s cancer conference. The discussion will revolve around young adults with cancer and the different issues faced with having such an illness in your 20s,” said Kirsten Nelson, conference committee chair. “This conference is dedicated to the memory of Katie Miller, who, at age 26, lost her battle to colon cancer while attending Des Moines University, pursing her goal of becoming a physician.”

Katherine Miller, or Katie as her classmates called her, was in her second term at DMU when she was diagnosed with a tumor in her colon. She was 26. Six months later, she was gone. A strong believer in osteopathic medicine, Katie’s story is told so that others may learn more about cancer in this age group. With more information, doctors, researchers and the public may be more able to detect cancer at an earlier stage and show sensitivity to challenges of having cancer at this age.

With this in mind, SSP decided to rename their annual cancer conference, with the full support of the Miller family and DMU administration. The Katie Miller Conference will carry on the tradition begun in 2001.

Register at by Feb. 1. For more information, call 515.271.1041.


Improving the outcome of young adults with cancer
Archie Bleyer, M.D., is the director of Aflac research projects in adolescent and young adult oncology at Oregon Health and Sciences University and medical advisor for the St. Charles Medical Center cancer treatment center. He is a champion for young cancer patients’ biological development and psychosocial needs.

Symptom management & the psychological aspects of cancer
Steven D. Passik, Ph.D., is an associate attending psychologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He was personally involved with Katie Miller’s treatment.

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