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ISSN: 1689-832X
Journal of Contemporary Brachytherapy
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vol. 12
Letter to the Editor

7th Biannual Conference of the Polish Brachytherapy Society – presidential digest

Piotr Wojcieszek

Online publish date: 2020/10/30
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- Wojcieszek letter.pdf  [0.31 MB]
- Obituary.pdf  [0.85 MB]
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The Polish Brachytherapy Society organizes scientific meetings every two years. There are mainly for Polish nationals to present not only our data and current brachytherapy standards, but also to meet each other and discuss new directions for patient care. We also present educational lectures to keep Polish brachytherapy on the highest possible level. The year 2020 is one of the weirdest to remember. We all miss regular meetings, congresses, and workshops. Lockdowns, flight cancellations, and the COVID-19 pandemic have changed our habits. These have also influenced our scientific work. The World Brachytherapy Congress has been postponed till 2021, while the GEC-ESTRO workshop has been canceled. Also, the ESTRO meeting has been moved to November and it is going to be held fully online. Regarding the Conference, we have been changing our decision for weeks. After analyzing the pros and cons, our organizing committee decided to proceed with the Conference. We accepted that no internationals would come, as double quarantine was unimaginable. Moreover, we decided to limit the number of participants and organize a hybrid meeting (i.e., physical plus online) with no interactive workshops. And WE DID IT! From 15.09.2020 to 17.09.2020, there were over 100 participants physically present. The industry exhibition included 15 pharmaceutical and technology companies (booths were more modest than usual due to social distancing). More than 50 participants streamed sessions online. Forty-three lectures were presented for more than 12 hours. Fourteen presenters showed their original data, twelve displayed their own clinical experience, while 17 provided strictly educational lectures. One of the most significant highlights was the skin cancer brachytherapy session held in English. Other sessions included prostate cancer brachytherapy, gynecological cancers brachytherapy, or interventional radiotherapy. Participants took part in special conferences on SARS-Cov-2, supportive care, or future of BrachyScience with the Journal of Contemporary Brachytherapy Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Adam Chicheł. The memoriam session was exceptional and emotional, as we paid respects to the late Prof. Janusz Skowronek and the late Dr. Brygida Białas. To conclude, not only in my opinion, it was a great time spent with people interested in brachytherapy. Lobby talks brought new friendships and collaborations. We did not receive any reports on COVID-19-positive participants, two weeks after the meeting, because of strict adherence to the procedures, social distancing, face masks, and disinfectants on every corner. This may be helpful for future meetings in the time of pandemic. We should remember: #wearebrachy. Acknowledgments: I would like to sincerely thank the organizing committee for doing a really great job. Special thanks to Magdalena Stankiewicz, MD, PhD and Anna Wielgus, MSc for their work to make the Conference real and possible. They were unstoppable! I want to thank Prof. Krzysztof Składowski for his patronage and excellent talk as the Polish National Consultant in the Radiation Oncology. I would like to express my gratitude to Elekta Poland (Iridium Sponsor) for the best support one could imagine. Also, I want to acknowledge the Golden Sponsors (Astellas, Ipsen) for the sessions and all other companies, which participated in our event. Last but not least, I want to thank all the participants who came to Katowice despite the COVID-19 pandemic and those who attended our Conference online.

Brygida Białas, MD, PhD (1959-2020): a pioneer of high-dose-rate brachytherapy in Poland

This August, after a long struggle with terminal illness, Brygida Białas passed away. The physician, the scientist, the brachytherapist. As very experienced in the field, she always found a way to use high-dose-rate brachytherapy. She was particularly keen on gynecological oncology and breast cancer. Every day, she treated patients with cervical and endo-metrial cancer, a number of them impossible to count. Her weapon of choice was the ring applicator. She introduced multicatheter accelerated partial breast irradiation and performed nearly half a thousand of implantations. She started her oncology career in 1984, just after graduation from the Silesian School of Medicine in Katowice. She worked in the Gynecological Oncology Clinic of Maria Skłodowska-Curie Memorial Cancer Center and Institute in Gli-wice. The head of the clinic, late Pawel Ratka MD, PhD, was very interested in the HDR brachytherapy, which was in-troduced in Gliwice in 1983 as the first in Poland. With him, Dr. Białas started to develop new treatment schedules for gynecological patients. In 1990, she went to Essen, Germany, for a one-year internship, and after her return, she was nominated the head of the Brachytherapy Unit. In 1997, she defended her PhD thesis on HDR brachytherapy fractiona-tion in cervical cancer patients. Next, she organized a brachytherapy department as an independent element in the Insti-tute structure. Soon after, many other procedures were introduced, including interstitial brachytherapy (prostate, head and neck, breast, penile), surface brachytherapy for skin cancer, endoluminal (bronchi, esophagus), and now obsolete, endovascular brachytherapy. Moreover, she co-authored over 30 publications in English and Polish (119 citations, h-index = 7, Scopus). She was the mentor for many, including me. I met her at the brachytherapy department, where I came for four months to practice my skills as a radiotherapy resident. I knew nothing. Thanks to the „Boss”, as her team called her, I became so absorbed with brachytherapy that I stayed for the next ten years. And it is not over yet.
Thank you, Dr. Białas. Rest in Peace.
Piotr Wojcieszek, MD, PhD President of the Polish Brachytherapy Society Head of the Brachytherapy Department MSC National Research Institute of Oncology, Gliwice Branch
Copyright: © 2020 Termedia Sp. z o. o. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.
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