We are here because, after a terminal non- smoking lung cancer diagnosis in 2018 and nearing the end of her life, Ruth had a vision to help make a real difference to people’s lives.
Our Vision is two-fold, as guided by Ruth:
- Our society understands the importance of preparing for grief and how to help families ‘do death well’.
- The world knows better how to prevent and treat non-smoking lung cancers.
Three months after Ruth’s death, Sir Andrew Strauss set up the Ruth Strauss Foundation. After two hugely successful years of raising awareness of our cause and growing a network of loyal supporters, we are clear on how we will bring people together to build Ruth’s Legacy and make a real positive impact on people’s lives.
Find out how you can help and join the RSF in supporting families facing one of life’s toughest tests.
Foreword: Sir Andrew, Karina Murtagh
Our 3 Year Strategy
Our Mission: A Dual Focus
Non-Smoking Lung Cancer Mission
Connect with us
As Ruth bravely considered this towards the end of her life, her thoughts were almost exclusively centred on what her death would mean to the boys and myself, as well as what ‘good’ could come out of this dreadful situation.
The idea of the Foundation was hers. Aside from driving research into non-smoking lung cancers, she was determined to ensure that others going through what our family had encountered should have a support network available to help them navigate their way through their illness and help prepare the whole family for the death of a parent. She wanted people to ‘do death well’.
Ruth’s legacy lives on in our values
Delivering our strategy in Ruth’s Spirit is key to how we operate and how we will achieve our mission. Ruth’s legacy and spirit are at the heart of the Ruth Strauss Foundation.
Our 3-year Strategy
Our 3 Year Strategy 2021-24
Our 3-year Strategy shows how we will support families to help parents start conversations with their children about their terminal diagnosis and demonstrates our approach to bring together the field of non-smoking lung cancer to initiate a global strategy. We hope it inspires you to join us.
Our Mission has a dual focus:
Ruth's Legacy has 5 Strategic priorities that will help us to achieve our Mission:
”“The death of a parent can leave a long-term impact on a child’s wellbeing”
Ruth felt strongly she and Andrew needed professional help on how they would manage conversations with their boys surrounding her diagnosis, death and dying. However, Ruth realised it wasn’t easy to find ‘pre-bereavement’ support. The benefits of bereavement support are widely recognised and available, but pre-bereavement support is not. There is inconsistency in support available for families with dependent children when a parent is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness and rarely is it ‘offered’.
The death of a parent can leave a long-term impact on a child’s wellbeing – research shows that how children are supported in the lead up to parental death can directly influence their ability to cope during bereavement. Research shows that children want parents to be open about their incurable illness, but parents and healthcare professionals often try to protect the child from the diagnosis. We also know that parents are seeking more support from healthcare professionals and teachers to enable these conversations, but currently there is not enough training and many professionals feel unprepared to have these conversations. We believe it is important to help families prepare for grief, death and dying by providing guidance to parents on how to start the difficult conversation with their children about their terminal diagnosis. By encouraging families to maintain an open and honest dialogue, children will be able to enjoy the time left with the dying parent, without internalising questions, worries or fears.
To enable this support for families, we are looking to drive real cultural change, at scale, by supporting the health and education systems. It is our hope that, over time and with the RSF Training Programme, professionals will feel confident and skilled to guide parents on how to tell their child that they are dying.
What We Are Doing
- Be the trusted destination for family pre-bereavement support
- Continue to support the system to support families
- Help society understand the importance of preparing for grief
There is no one place dedicated to providing parents with the guidance on how to talk with their child about their incurable diagnosis and prepare their family for the future.
Launch the RSF Family Support Service
Where families can seek guidance in online tools and resources or speak directly with an RSF trained advisor.
Work with other charities/bodies to support families through their grief journey.
AMBITION BY 2024
Offered support to over 6,000 families through RSF resources and our trained Pre-bereavement Guidance team.
Healthcare professionals and teachers feel ill-equipped to support families where a child is facing the death of a parent.
Launch the RSF Training Programme
Provide training and support to healthcare professionals and teachers, so they feel more confident and skilled in supporting families through their incurable diagnosis.
Influence Policy Makers
Engage with government and policy makers to help ensure that pre-bereavement support is recognised in care pathways.
AMBITION BY 2024
Offered training to over 4,000 healthcare professionals.
Piloted the RSF school and teacher support programme.
The benefits of bereavement support are widely recognised, but pre-bereavement support is not. If a child’s emotional support needs are unmet, this can impact their long-term well-being.
Be experience and insight led
Lead the case for pre-bereavement support grounded in evidence and co-design our support services via the RSF ‘experience-led panel’
Campaign for culture change
Raise awareness of why talking openly and honestly about death and dying and preparing for grief is essential. Especially for families with dependent children.
AMBITION BY 2024
Led a change in culture, where death is less of a taboo subject and pre-bereavement support is seen to be as vital as bereavement support.
Family SupportContact Deepa
”We believe it is crucial to help families prepare for grief, death and dying by providing guidance on how to start the difficult conversation with a child about a parent’s terminal diagnosis. By encouraging families to maintain an open and honest dialogue, children will be able to enjoy the time left with the dying parent, without internalising questions, worries or fears.”Deepa DoshiHead of Mission Services
Healthcare Professionals Trained
More women than men are diagnosed with NSLC
One in eight people with lung cancer have never smoked
of lung cancers are diagnosed via A&E in England
Lung cancer still kills 35,000 each year
Lung cancer only receives over 8% of UK cancer research funding
What We Are Doing
Non-Smoking Lung Cancers Research
There is currently no UK wide or global strategy around NSLC and there is a lack of collaboration and joint working around lung cancer research.
Initiate a Global Strategy
Deliver a programme of activity that brings together the field of non-smoking lung cancer (researchers/pharma/clinicians/ patients/charities) to initiate a UK wide strategy.
Learn from Patients
Work to ensure that the experiences of patients are at the heart of research.
AMBITION BY 2024
Supported a UK wide strategy and initiated a global strategy for non-smoking lung cancers.
Non-smoking related lung cancer is an underfunded field and there is more work to be done. From understanding the causes, to early diagnosis, to benefits of molecular testing and better treat- ment.
Engage Primary Care
Build our influence and increase awareness in the early diagnosis of NSLC across public health and Primary Care.
Raise the Profile
We will raise the profile of NSLC as an underfunded field to secure more investment and focus.
We will consider collaboration with other charities/bodies to jointly fund research initiatives.
AMBITION BY 2024
An increased awareness of NSLC across the UK public and with Primary Care professionals to drive earlier diagnosis and improve patient outcomes.
In partnership with other charities with similar non-smoking lung cancer aims, we will enhance our understanding of, and improve outcomes for, non-smoking lung cancers.
for Ruth’s Legacy
Solid Foundations for Ruth’s Legacy
Our first 3-year Strategy is bold and transformational, but we are building it on solid foundations, based around 3 core principles.
Sustainable, Scalable Delivery: We are approaching our Mission and the fundraising to finance these services with prudence and longevity. For each core service, fundraising campaign or event, we test and learn via a series of pilots and evaluations. We grow at a pace that is appropriate for the Foundation and Ruth’s Legacy scalability will be reviewed every six months.
Robust Infrastructure: Delivering the many functions the Foundation has in engaging supporters, professionals and families is an efficient infrastructure, which guides our planning and operations. The secure management of supporter data and our systems is paramount, as are our policies and processes which are regularly reviewed by our team and Board of Trustees. We will track our impact and report on expenditure to our many stakeholders, so they can understand the difference they have made.
Facts & Figures
Family Support Mission
- c23,600 parents with dependent children die in the UK each year
- Each year within the UK, c41,000 children under the age of 18 are bereaved of a parent
- This equates to a parent dying every 22 minutes, leaving behind 112 dependent children
- Parents are unsure how to talk with and prepare their children for the death of a parent
- Parents seek help from healthcare professionals to enable them to prepare and to support their children, yet healthcare professionals say they feel ill-equiped and under-prepared to offer this support.
- Lung cancer is England’s biggest cause of cancer death. Around 28,100 people die from lung cancer in England each year.
- 57% of lung cancer patients are diagnosed at stage IIIb or IV when curative treatment is no longer an option. This percentage is significantly higher than in other cancer types.
- Lung cancer in never-smokers is now the eighth most common cause of cancer-related death in the UK and the seventh most prevalent cancer in the world.
- It is estimated that nearly 6000 people who have never smoked die of lung cancer each year.
- ‘Never-smoker’ generally refers to someone who has smoked less than one hundred cigarettes in their lifetime.
- More women than men are being diagnosed with lung cancer.