In a recent interview with The Oncology Nurse-APN/PA (TON), Beth Faiman, PhD, APRN-BC, AOCN, Nurse Practitioner, Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, OH, and Editor-in-Chief of TON discussed her recent acceptance of a nomination for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Woman of the Year award.
What is your background?
Beth Faiman (BF): I am a nurse practitioner and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) researcher at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio; I have been at the Cleveland Clinic since 1994. My primary role is as an adult nurse practitioner, and I focus on taking care of patients with multiple myeloma (MM). I have also been Editor-in-Chief of TON since 2008.
What is the LLS?
BF: The LLS is one of the largest voluntary healthcare organizations, and has been around since 1949. It has been on the forefront of blood cancers for many, many years.
I have been working with patients with blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, and MM, since 1994. I was fortunate to learn at an early age that I wanted to become a nurse. I have advanced myself from registered nurse to nurse practitioner to PhD throughout my time.
The importance of the LLS for me is that I have seen, firsthand, the wonders that they do, not only in research and trying to find a cure for blood cancers, but—most importantly, and impactful to me—the resources they provide for patients and caregivers.
These days, I work primarily with patients with MM. I do see that my patients struggle with having a chronic illness; when they are diagnosed, they don’t pass away in a few years—they live for 10, 20 years. Cancer medications are very expensive in many cases, and the LLS helps with copayment assistance for these medications. They help with transportation reimbursements, and also have live informational sessions for our patients.
The LLS provides many benefits to the patients and caregivers, which in turn helps me to do my job. If I know a patient needs a certain medication that I need to prescribe for their cancer, I know that the LLS is there and could potentially help the patient with copay assistance if they can’t afford it.
How can people get involved?
BF: The LLS has this annual Man and Woman of the Year campaign, which has been going on for several years. The focus, really, is to raise funds for the LLS for blood and cancer research. We don’t get to where we are today in 2016 without doing clinical research. From the bench and the researchers who do the research to the bedside and actually giving the drugs to the patients, the supported care is really important. Every dollar helps, and much of the money funding the LLS comes from this campaign.
The Man and the Woman of the Year campaign is meant to honor a Boy and Girl of the Year—so it’s not about me. It’s about the people who live with blood cancer. Children are affected the most, and they inspire and motivate me as a candidate. I am running on behalf of a Girl of the Year, and helping to make as much money in her name as possible.
The campaign is timely, and begins at the end of February. I am working to assemble a team of people who will help me raise the money. I don’t necessarily expect people to write a check, but if we can do fun activities, such as 50-50 raffles or lunch and learns (where you can learn and have some lunch and donate time as much as anything else), then that’s what I want to do to help raise the money for the LLS.
This is a national campaign—it’s not just in Cleveland, where I am based and running. There will be a kickoff celebration starting in February; at the midpoint, we are going to have another event where all of the candidates from my area come together. Then there’s a grand finale, which is a big gala celebrating all of the candidates’ teams’ fundraising efforts.
Do you have any concluding remarks?
BF: I am blessed to be able to take care of these patients and their caregivers, but it is really the day in and day out—they are the ones who are living with the cancer. Organizations like the LLS are critical to help our patients get what they need, and that’s why I wanted to support them. I am also very passionate about helping, specifically, the International Myeloma Foundation. I’m a founding member and delegate on their Nurse Leadership Board.
I try to volunteer my time through them, but felt that, in this venue, with the LLS—because they do help my patients locally so much—I’ll hopefully be able to raise awareness for this as a good charity. I also hope that we’ll be able to make even just a little bit of money, because every dollar helps to make the lives of our future cancer patients better, and honors the patients who have been struggling with this disease for many, many years.