Finding My Greater Purpose Through Patient Advocacy

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Martha Raymond, Founder/CEO of the Raymond Foundation is now a contributing author for CURE magazine. Martha's first published article journals her thirty year career as a patient advocate, and is dedicated to Martha's parents, Margaret & Patrick.

Losing both my parents when I was so young led me to what would become my life’s purpose. Advocating for patients with cancer became my motivation and my mission.

Recently while speaking at a cancer survivorship conference, I mentioned in my prepared remarks that I had been a patient advocate for individuals with cancer for over thirty years. Several younger audience members smiled wide-eyed when I mentioned this, and I am pretty sure they realized that I’d been advocating for patients with cancer since before they were born.

As an eternal optimist with a glass half-full personality, I realized immediately that while I may have been slightly older than some attendees at the conference, my experience and lessons learned from decades of advocacy work could provide insight and perspective for the next generation of cancer advocates.

Read the rest on curetoday.com

A Roadmap For Cancer Caregivers

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It brings all of us at the Raymond Foundation great joy to introduce our Cancer Caregiver Action Plan.  Creating the Action Plan was a sincere labor of love, understanding first-hand the many challenges and varying emotions that cancer caregivers face every day. 

The Cancer Caregiver Action Plan was developed based on conversations with fellow caregivers who asked for a way to ‘pay it forward’ – a way to help other caregivers by providing real world perspective and insight into the caregiver journey.  Throughout the Action Plan you’ll see their stories and words of encouragement illustrating practical advice to help make the caregiving experience a little easier.  We are sincerely grateful to all the caregivers who contributed to the Action Plan.

It is our hope that the information our Cancer Caregiver Action Plan provides will help make a meaningful difference and serve as a roadmap for cancer caregivers as they support their loved one throughout the cancer journey.  

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Care Divided

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Caring for a loved one with cancer builds a relationship like no other.  The patient-caregiver bond is strengthened moment by moment as you work to defeat the enemy together.  Together as a team battling side effects.  Together as a team when scan-xiety visits and refuses to leave.  Together when the results are good and together when the results are bad.  Together trying to gain a sense of control.  Knowing that you are stronger together.

But, what happens when the team becomes divided? 

What happens when the strength of togetherness shatters? 

How does a relationship with so much on the line diminish?

In a perfect world, relationships would be a blend of give and take.  However, in the patient-caregiver relationship, the patient ultimately decides what is best for them.  It is the patient that dictates if they want surgery, or additional treatments, or if they really want to try a clinical trial.  It is their life and as it should be, their decision.   When a caregiver doesn’t agree with the patient decision, what happens then?  It’s not easy to accept a decision you may not agree with especially when you’re fully invested in the potential life and death outcome.  

What happens to the caregiver when a patient no longer needs or wants them on their team?

How does a caregiver move on knowing that their care is no longer desired?

How can a caregiver learn to care again? 

All relationships are complicated and require constant nurture and attention.  The patient-caregiver relationship is a delicate balance – a balance built on life and death decisions.  A balance of its very nature born from suffering and despair.  A balance that requires compassion and empathy.  A balance that changes from moment to moment.  A balance created by an enemy who leverages all control. 

Despite differences in opinion, can the patient-caregiver relationship be restored?

Is there a possibility of compromise – a possibility of regaining the strength of togetherness?

Can both the patient and caregiver find a balance that works for them?

As a caregiver, I have lived through the heartbreak of care divided. I know firsthand that it is possible to compromise and re-create a meaningful patient-caregiver relationship.  It isn’t easy, and there are days when I feel helpless.  There are days when I feel I should be doing more.  But, then I step back and realize that I am providing the type of care that is asked of me.  And, in the end, I realize that we are united – not divided.   A relationship like no other. Knowing we are stronger together and working to find a balance.

The Caregiver Voice: Insights Into Caring For The Young Adult Colorectal Cancer Patient

I was honored to present our research based on the caregiver experience at the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Survivorship Symposium.  Speaking with cancer caregivers from across the United States was a humbling experience, and I am grateful to each of these remarkable individuals for sharing their voice and perspectives.  The Raymond Foundation understands that new and expanded caregiver support services are needed, and we look forward to continuing the conversation with our caregivers as we create meaningful programs and support services.   One of our new initiatives will launch this year on November 1, 2018 – the first annual Global Cancer Caregiver Day.  We hope you will join us for this important event as we honor, celebrate and thank our cancer caregivers.

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Thank you to our sponsors: 

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