July 13th is GIST Awareness Day: Spreading Rare Disease Awareness

Each year, June 13th is celebrated as Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST) Awareness Day. The ultimate goal of awareness days for rare diseases is to help inform both the general public and the medical community. Awareness is one of the greatest obstacles to improving the lives of patients living with rare diseases. This involves promoting efforts of advocacy, education, and fundraising. The very first GIST Awareness Day was held on July 13th, 2014.

About Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) is a form of tumor that can appear in the digestive tract. These tumors appear in the interstitial cells of Cajal, which control smooth muscle activity. These tumors are connected to mutations that affect the KIT gene or the PDGFRA gene in the vast majority of cases. In most cases, these mutations appear sporadically, and are only rarely inherited. Typically they occur as part of another genetic disorder when they are inherited. They can occur in a number of locations along the digestive tract, most often the stomach, small intestine, or esophagus. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, liver metastases, and gastrointestinal bleeding. Treatment usually involves surgery or medications when surgery is not possible. Gastronintestinal stromal tumors generally do not respond to radiation or chemotherapy. To learn more about gastrointestinal stromal tumors, click here.


Organized by The Life Raft Group, this year’s theme for the awareness day is #GISTHope. The gastrointestinal stromal tumors community continues to experience the challenges imposed by the ongoing coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. In this tumultuous time many people have taken to sharing images of inspiration on social media. 

This year, the goal is to continue this trend, so get your creative juices flowing and share images of the #GISTHope message. Use any medium you like: chalk, paint, markers…whatever you are most comfortable with. Write or paint the message on small stones or rocks and place them in different places around your area. This is a great way to spread the message while maintaining physical distancing.

Upload the image on your social media platform of choice using the #GISTHope hashtag. Check out some more ideas on how to get involved here.

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