At the 2019 Annual ASCO meeting in Chicago, Oncology Nursing News
got the chance to speak with Martha Raymond, CEO and founder of the Raymond Foundation
, and executive director at the GI Cancers Alliance.
We discussed where she sees growth for the GI Cancers Alliance going, as the group is now partnered with over 40 international advocacy organizations, and how her work with the Raymond Foundation continues to provide caregivers with resources on how to help the patient and themselves.
Oncology Nursing News: What are some new initiatives and programs from the GI Cancers Alliance?
New initiatives of the GI Cancers Alliance include a new clinical trials initiative where we provide our members with a 5-part webinar series on how we could help transform the clinical trials experience for patients. Along with that initiative, we are now voting with our members to decide where we’ll go from there after receiving all of the education from the webinar. In addition, we are looking at advocacy initiatives to possibly reach the hill, state groups, and even grassroots advocacy as another way to help amplify our collective voice.
What are some future plans for growth?
Every day we speak to possible new members, we tell them about the work we're doing, and I think a lot of our new growth will happen in the international space. Luckily, we do represent all disease states in gastrointestinal cancers, so we're very proud of that. Even in some of the small disease states, we're able to provide them a platform to get their information out to help with education for patients and I do think internationally we will be gaining many new members very soon.
Can you provide a brief history of the Raymond Foundation?
The Raymond Foundation was founded over 30 years ago in honor of my parent's Margaret and Patrick Raymond who both passed away with colon cancer when they were very young. Back when they were diagnosed there were no diagnostic tests, there were no screening tests and there was really only one drug available at the time, which was 5FU.
We've come a long way in these 30 years with new treatment protocols for patients and I'm very proud to say that looking back where we were 30 years ago to where we are now, and I know there are more strides we still need to make to help patients but again, just in my lifetime there were no resources there to help patients, not even cancer patients in general, much less colon cancer patients and now there are. So, we are looking forward to new growth to continue to help the caregiver and the patient.
What are the new cancer caregiver initiatives?
We're very proud at the Raymond Foundation to have launched the first cancer caregiver action plan. It’s really a road map for cancer caregivers for all disease states to let them know that basically they're not alone and to let them know the tools they might use to help themselves, because as we all know, being a caregiver is difficult. They want to be strong for the patient, but at the same time they have to take care of their own needs, which is very difficult for caregivers.
What we provide is information both on our website and in a downloadable form so caregivers will have a tool kit, an actual guide, to help them. Let them know they're not alone, let them hear stories of what they've experienced so they might learn lessons from other caregivers and we're excited as we continue the launch of our action plan that will go into in-depth programming for newly diagnosed patients all the way through palliative care all the way through a hospice care situation. So, I think we will provide caregivers and patients a road map throughout the whole care continuum.
Could you expand on the Cancer Caregiver Action plan?
Our cancer caregiver action plan is available for free, it is on our website on theraymondfoundation.org
and also available in print copies, so if individuals want to take the actual copy to their oncologist office and share it with a patient, or even share it in support groups, they can do so.
We've learned a lot that caregivers are taking the plan and they're sharing it, they're learning from it, and one of the wonderful parts I think of the care plan is that it provides a journal as well. Allowing caregivers to journal their experience and keep notes about the care continuum with the patient.