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The Ryan Waldheger Research Memorial Foundation: Supporting Ryan's dream of improving cancer care for adolescents and young adults through research that bridges the gap between pediatric and adult cancer care programs.

There’s a part of Ryan in all of us, reminding us to do what we can, and always believe.

With your donation you support Ryan's dream of improving cancer care for adolescents and young adults through research that bridges the gap between pediatric and adult cancer care programs.
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Ryan fervently wanted young people with cancer to benefit from his experience. In 1996, even though he was barely 17 years old, Ryan was initially treated as an adult cancer patient under an adult cancer protocol (treatment plan). He was unaware that much research had been done indicating the best possible outcome might be achieved following a pediatric cancer protocol. Once he learned of this research, he switched oncologists and began the pediatric treatment program that allowed him to stay cancer-free for over six years. At age 23, his leukemia recurred and this time he had no choice but to switch oncologists again.

At about the this time he became aware that studies indicated patients between the age of 15 and 19 were not benefiting from advances in either pediatric or adult cancer care. The National Cancer Institute expanded the effected group to include patients 15-39 years of age and applied the name Adolescent and Young Adults (AYAs). In 2005-2006 , The Lance Armstrong Foundation (renamed Livestrong Foundation in November 2012) co-funded the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program Review Group and was at the forefront of addressing important AYA cancer patient issues.

Based on Ryan's experience and strongly influenced by the findings of the above studies, the RWRM mission statement was written.
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RWRM's mission is to Promote and Support:

  1. Private, public, and political initiatives in cancer research, clinical trials, and protocols specifically aimed at the treatment of young adults with cancer.
  2. The redesign of existing in-patient and out-patient treatment environments to better meet the physical, psychological, and social needs of young adult cancer patients.
  3. Collaboration among adult and pediatric units, and other care givers, to implement separate young adult cancer units.
  4. Education and support of young adults, and their families, who are fighting cancer together.

Our efforts to date have been evenly spread between these four objectives. We promote and support cancer research through The Ryan Waldheger Clinical Research Fund and provide ongoing support to fundraising efforts on behalf of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer among young adults under the age of 20. To promote and support better treatment environments we've participated on the Patient and Family Advisory Council for University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center (Cleveland), speaking from experience as a young adult cancer patient family member. Nationally, to promote and support collaboration among adult and pediatric hospital units, we've worked to establish quality standards of care for adolescent and young adult cancer patients and to establish adolescent and young adult cancer fellowships. Read More... Finally, we promote and support education of young adults and their families by our participation in the Critical Mass adolescent and young adult cancer organization.

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