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Talk about patient focus

I returned to my desk after a meeting this afternoon and found a sympathy card waiting to be signed after circulating around the office.  I was confused; I’ve only been here a few days and didn’t recognize the name others had referenced on the card.  I asked a colleague and was taken aback to learn it was for the family of an Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation Childhood Cancer Hero.  Their teenage daughter had just passed away from a rare form of cancer.

The evening before we had received an email about another childhood hero who had a recent scan showing his cancer had spread and the family asking for prayers for their son and their family.  It was heartbreaking. 

At GSK we talk alot about patient focus and always putting the patient at the heart of our decision making.  As part of GSK Oncology, we spend alot of time thinking about the patients our medications help, and a significant amount of my time is helping to ensure appropriate patients have access to our medicines.  However, being at ALSF for less than a week, I’ve come to appreciate patient focus on a whole new level and have already witnessed a level of intimacy with patients and their families I’ve not experienced before.

I cried after I signed the sympathy card and I cried even more when I read the stories of other childhood heros on the ALSF website: http://www.alexslemonade.org/newsroom/heroes. I knew going into this assignment I might struggle with the idea of childhood cancer (being a mom of two boys myself!) but I wasn’t really prepared for the intensity of emotions I find myself now dealing with.  The more I learn, the more devastated I am by the reality these families must face and the more committed I am to helping ALSF use the money they raise – more than $55 million to date- in the most optimal way.  Here’s hoping for some breakthrough discoveries. . .