The Life Raft Group and Bayer HealthCare Present GIST Awareness Day on Sunday, July 13

July 9, 2014

- Awareness campaign aims to break world record for largest display of origami boats to show widespread support for GIST community

WHIPPANY, N.J. and WAYNE, N.J., July 9, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — To raise awareness about gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST), the Life Raft Group, a leading GIST advocacy organization, designates Sunday, July 13, 2014 as worldwide GIST Awareness Day, through a presenting sponsorship from Bayer HealthCare. At the center of the awareness activities is a global challenge to break the world record for the largest display of origami boats, a creative and engaging way to show GIST patients and caregivers that they are not alone – others are in the same boat. The Life Raft Group invites everyone to visit www.gistawarenessday.org to play a part.

“By encouraging people around the world to participate in the origami challenge, we hope to show an incredible outpouring of global support for people with GIST – a rare type of cancer,” said Norman Scherzer, Executive Director of the Life Raft Group. “The more awareness we can create for GIST, the more programs and research we can provide and the closer we can get to a cure for this often misdiagnosed disease.”

The Life Raft Group selected July 13 as the date for GIST Awareness Day for two meaningful reasons. First, July is National Sarcoma Awareness Month and GIST is the most common form of sarcoma involving the gastrointestinal tract.(1 )Second, up to 5,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with GIST every year – that’s about 13 people diagnosed with GIST each day.(2)

About three years ago I was diagnosed with GIST after noticing an odd lump in my abdomen. At first I thought nothing of it. I was young and feeling healthy, but a loved one insisted I go get checked. I’m glad I did,” said comedienne and actress Maureen “Mo” Collins. “For people just like me who have been diagnosed with GIST, I encourage them to stay positive, this has helped me greatly.”

“As part of our ongoing commitment to the GIST community, Bayer proudly supports the great work the Life Raft Group is doing for patients and caregivers,” said Joseph Germino, M.D., Vice President of Medical Affairs, Oncology, Bayer HealthCare. “Through GIST Awareness Day, we hope to highlight the need for continued advances in GIST, one of many hard-to-treat cancers.”

Getting Involved: How the Public Can Help

On Sunday, July 13, the Life Raft Group and Bayer will host GIST Awareness Day events in cities across the country to help build a stronger local voice for the GIST community. The events promise an afternoon of fun activities for the whole family while raising awareness about GIST. International GIST groups will also hold mini-events to create worldwide GIST solidarity. To find more information about the events, visit www.gistawarenessday.org or follow the Life Raft Group on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or view the Life Raft Group’s videos on YouTube.

GIST Awareness Day is an extension of the Life Raft Group’s Rare 13 education campaign. As part of the awareness initiative, the Life Raft Group has developed 13 Promises for GIST, an advocacy effort to help expand patient support and advance research and treatment options. In July, the Life Raft Group plans to raise these promises to policymakers in the nation’s capital.

The 13 Promises to the GIST Community

    1. Fund GIST research
    2. Fund sarcoma research
    3. Secure a unique GIST reimbursement code
    4. Encourage compassionate use programs
    5. Ensure public payer coverage for medications
    6. Expand clinical trial enrollment
    7. Encourage speedy regulation processes
    8. Fund healthcare professionals education on sarcomas
    9. Ensure adequate sick leave policies
    10. Enhance social services for sarcoma patients and families
    11. Protect patient job security
    12. Ensure paid sick leave for caregivers
    13. Incentivize for continued innovation

About Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST)

GIST is a rare cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, which belongs to the general class of cancers called sarcomas.(2,1) Sarcomas are a group of rare cancers that occur in certain tissues, such as bone or muscle.(3) In the United States, approximately 5,000 new cases of GIST are diagnosed each year.(2 )Approximately 75-90 percent of GIST are limited to a single site at the time of diagnosis, and about 10-25 percent are metastatic (meaning the disease has spread to other parts of the body) at the time of diagnosis.(4 )GIST may not cause any symptoms and may be found incidentally when the doctor is looking for other problems.(2)

About The Life Raft Group

The Life Raft Group is a non-profit organization that has a simple focus: to cure a form of cancer known as GIST and to help those living with it until then. To do this, The Life Raft Group focuses on three key areas: research, patient support and education, and advocacy, which lay the foundation of our mission to ensure the survival of GIST patients through a comprehensive approach connecting individual patients’ needs, the worldwide community of GIST advocates and the global health and research environment. To learn more about The Life Raft Group visit www.LifeRaftGroup.org.

About Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. is the U.S.-based pharmaceuticals business of Bayer HealthCare LLC, a subsidiary of Bayer AG. Bayer HealthCare is one of the world’s leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry, and combines the activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Medical Care, and Pharmaceuticals divisions. As a specialty pharmaceutical company, Bayer HealthCare provides products for General Medicine, Hematology, Neurology, Oncology and Women’s Healthcare. The company’s aim is to discover and manufacture products that will improve human health worldwide by diagnosing, preventing and treating diseases.

Bayer(®) and the Bayer Cross(®) are registered trademarks of Bayer.


    1. National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. General
       Information about Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors. Epidemiology. (Last
       Revised 02/28/2014). Accessed on June 8, 2014. Available at



    2. American Cancer Society. Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST). (Last
       Revised 02/26/2013). Accessed April 22, 2014.Available at


    3. American Cancer Society. Sarcoma: Adult Soft Tissue Cancer. (Last Revised
       02/06/2014). Accessed April 22, 2014.Available at



    4. Joensuu H. Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). Annals of Oncology.
       2006 September; Volume 17. Available at


       Accessed April 22, 2014.

SOURCE Bayer HealthCare

Source: PR Newswire

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