GBM Survivor and Caregiver to Share Perspectives on Living Well with a Brain Tumor at American Brain Tumor Association Annual Conference

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July 11, 2017

CHICAGO, IL -  Five-year glioblastoma (GBM) survivor Martin Romero, along with his wife and caregiver Karma Punwasi, understand first-hand what it’s like to live with the uncertainty that follows a brain tumor diagnosis whether its six months or five years later. Martin and Karma will lead a powerful discussion among patients and caregivers attending the American Brain Tumor Association’s Annual Patient and Family Conference, entitled “Redefining Survivorship through Science, Technology and Clinical Innovation,” being held Aug. 4-5 at the Westin O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill.  Together, they will offer their patient and caregiver perspectives on managing brain tumor symptoms, the impact on their daily lives and their experiences with available therapies.

"We are so honored to be a part of this session to share with others that they are not alone and to encourage patients and caregivers to be open and honest with each other so together they can learn to live their best lives while navigating the ups and downs that are part of the brain tumor journey,” said Karma. “We’re really a unique group of patients and caregivers handling unique challenges thrown our way, so this session offers a rare opportunity to get together with others who are walking in your shoes and to walk away with new-found inspiration and strategies to live this unique life.”

During the session, “Getting a Perspective: Patient, Caregiver and Health Care Professional,” Martin and Karma will candidly discuss their day-to-day challenges, frustrations and shared hopes that have helped foster for them an improved quality of life.  Martin’s neuro-oncologist, Jay-Jiguang Zhu, MD, PHD, University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston (UTHealth) and Memorial Hermann Hospital at Texas Medical Center, will join the discussion.  Dr. Zhu will offer tips and techniques on how GBM patients and caregivers fighting against GBM can become more empowered through greater understanding of their diagnosis, treatment options and symptom management.  He will also address effective communication with physicians and care teams and how to can discuss quality of life issues.

“Together these skills, knowledge and experiences will help patients and caregivers become educated and informed patients and caregivers and put GBM patients in the ‘driver’s seat’ alongside their treating physicians and care teams,” said Dr. Zhu. “With that mindset, patients will feel a sense of control and will have better quality of life and better control of the disease even with the same therapies received.”

The session will be followed by a video produced by conference sponsor AbbVie in collaboration with the ABTA for Brain Tumor Awareness Month this past May that features an inspiring portrayal of one couple’s GBM journey.

In addition to the discussion about improving quality of life while living with and caring for someone with a brain tumor, the conference will feature sessions on diet, nutrition and exercise, seizure and fatigue management, clinical trials, and how advances in technology and treatment options are redefining brain tumor survivorship.

The ABTA National Patient & Family Conference, Redefining Survivorship through Science, Technology and Clinical Innovation is being held at the Westin O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill., August 4-5. Advance registration is encouraged; walk-in registration will be based upon space availability.

To view the conference program and register, visit, or call 800-886-ABTA (2282) or email


Founded in 1973, the American Brain Tumor Association was the first national patient advocacy organization committed to funding brain tumor research and providing education and information for people of all tumor types and all ages.  For more information, visit or call 800-886-ABTA (2282).

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