A Dream Come True

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Stand Up To Cancer recently announced the formation of a 12 Million Dollar Dream Team to fund research and treatment in the fight against colorectal cancer.  I am humbled and honored to be included as a member of the 2017 Colorectal Cancer Dream Team.  Truly, A Dream Come True!

As I reflect on this Stand Up To Cancer research initiative, my thoughts immediately  go to all those affected by colorectal cancer -  the 135,000 individuals who will be diagnosed this year, and the 50,000 patients whose lives will be cut short in 2017 from this insidious disease.  This SU2C research and funding brings HOPE to these patients and their families and may very well be A Dream Come True.     

I know first-hand how a colon cancer diagnosis can devastate a family. Colon cancer claimed the lives of both my Mother and Father while in the prime of their lives.  For the past 25 years I’ve dedicated my life to advocating for research, improved treatment outcomes and quality of survivorship concerns.  Since my parents were diagnosed, we’ve made great strides in screening and treatment options, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us.  In honor of my parents, Margaret and Patrick Raymond, this is sincerely A Dream Come True

And, to all of us who dedicate our lives to helping those affected by this disease – healthcare professionals who work long hours in oncology centers, for caregivers who tirelessly help their loved ones, for the patients who are currently receiving treatment, for advocates who share their experiences and voice to help others, and for the researchers who work to find a cure, this award is definitely A Dream Come True.  

 

Learn more about the $12 million CRC Dream Team from Stand Up to Cancer

THANK YOU to Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C).

Taking Care

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Forty years ago I lost my Dad to colon cancer. 

Before my Dad became ill, my childhood was carefree, filled with joyous family vacations, friends, beloved pets, school projects, music and dance lessons.  Inevitably, when my Dad became ill our family life changed forever.   He was in and out of the hospital for over three years prior to his passing.  I knew that surgeries, tests and procedures were taking place, but was too young to understand.  I did understand, however, that our family would never be the same. 

My carefree childhood days were gone.  I was no longer free of care.

As I reflect on this time, I realize that in many ways I became a caregiver at a very young age.  Responsibility, compassion and empathy became my focus.  I knew that in small ways I could help my Mom, Dad and family.  I had to do something to help ease the suffering our family was experiencing. 

Children may not be typical caregivers, but since I didn’t know that at the time, I persevered with my plan to help an out of control situation become a little bit more bearable.  I controlled what I could - by helping around the house without being asked, taking care of our beloved dog and cats, practicing my music lessons every day, and by making sure I was a straight ‘A’ student with afterschool activities to keep me occupied. 

My goal was to be dependable and responsible.  I was taking care of the things I could.

A few short years after my Dad passed my Mom was also diagnosed with colon cancer.  My role as a college age caregiver began, and I tried to do all I could to ease her suffering – to comfort and provide love and support during her final days.

Today, sadly, a new generation of children and young adults are trying to sort out the complex feelings as they help their Mom or Dad cope with this devastating disease.  Understanding these feelings and the need to help our youngest caregivers has led me to focus on creating educational and support programs for children, adolescents and young adults.  It’s vitally important to support our young caregivers, as they support their loved one.

We all understand that cancer affects the entire family, but for me I feel that it also shaped my life into who I am today.  My life’s purpose was defined so long ago.  This sense of purpose keeps me grounded in my patient and caregiver advocacy work. 

Taking care of those we love.  I can’t think of a more fulfilling or important purpose in life.

Global Colon Cancer Survivor Day

March 1st marks the beginning of colon cancer awareness month, and provides the ideal opportunity to recognize all those affected by this disease.  The Raymond Foundation chose March 1st for their annual Global Colon Cancer Survivor Day as an opportunity to pay tribute to colorectal cancer survivors worldwide and honor those who have passed from this disease. By creating a day to honor and celebrate the lives of all colorectal cancer survivors, our hope is that each survivor’s story of courage will help inspire those patients currently fighting this disease to know they are not alone. 

For many individuals who receive a cancer diagnosis, they look for ways to help others through awareness, education and advocacy.  One of the many positive outcomes of Global Colon Cancer Survivor Day has been the outpouring of support for families, caregivers and those who are newly diagnosed.  Patients who are often struggling themselves with treatment related side effects give of their time to help mentor newly diagnosed patients.  Caregivers and family members struggling to find enough hours in the day reach out to other families offering support and encouragement.  I like to think of this as a ripple effect of paying it forward.  Together we are building a community of support.

An important part of our Global Colon Cancer Survivor Day is remembering those we have lost to this disease.  Through candle lighting ceremonies both in person and virtually, our community comes together to remember and honor our friends and loved ones.  Stories, photos, and remembrances shared let us know we are not alone and that others understand our heartbreak.

Global Colon Cancer Survivor Day was created in loving memory of my parents, Margaret and Patrick Raymond, who both passed away from this disease while in the prime of their lives.   Unfortunately we all know someone who has been affected by this disease.  Colon Cancer Survivors are not just statistics - they are our mothers and fathers; sisters and brothers; husbands and wives; and sons and daughters, and as we mark Global Colon Cancer Survivor Day we pay tribute and celebrate the lives of these truly remarkable individuals.

Insights Into The Colorectal Cancer Survivorship Experience Survey

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Thank you for sharing your insights as part of our Global Colon Cancer Survivor Day forum. Your experiences are important, and will help us improve programming & education efforts for all those affected by this disease. For purposes of this survey - survivorship is determined as a patient living with, through and beyond cancer. All survey responses are completely anonymous.

SURVEY: Identifying The Unmet Needs Of GI Cancer Patients

On behalf of the GI Cancers Alliance, a brief 12 question survey has been created to assess the unmet needs of the gastrointestinal cancer patient and survivor community. Identifying and better understanding these unmet needs will help shape the programming and education efforts for the GI Cancers Alliance moving forward. 

  • The survey will be open for 6 weeks:  from October 4 -  November 15, 2016
  • All responses are anonymous
  • The brief 12 question survey should take only 5 - 10 minutes to complete
  • For assistance or questions, please contact Martha Raymond

Survey results will be shared at the December 2016 Ruesch Center Fighting a Smarter War Against Cancer Symposium (Washington, DC) and the January 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology/ASCO GI meeting (San Francisco, California).