Appalachia/ASPIRE Scholar

Health eating katie baker

Having reached the midpoint of my summer field experience, I can’t help but reflect on the past seven weeks and realize that this was the most ideal placement for me.  The Tennessee Cancer Coalition (TC2), its members, and my supervisors have encouraged and supported me in my efforts to develop a comprehensive skin cancer prevention program for high school students.  I must also take the opportunity to thank Big Kenny and the Love Everybody Fund.  Without that support, I wouldn’t be able to devote the time, energy and passion necessary to complete a project of this magnitude.

Since my last post, I have made significant progress on the program.  First, I interviewed a local melanoma survivor, Sabrina Fields, who attributes her cancer to excessive sunbathing and indoor tanning during her teenage years.  Our meeting was video recorded, and I plan on integrating “Sabrina’s Story,” as I am currently calling it, into my program.  In fact, I anticipate that segments of this video will serve as prompts for each of the four modules I’m developing, modules that will be delivered in four sessions during four consecutive weeks.  Second, I met with Lori Grabner from the Department of Health Science Education at David Crockett High School here in East Tennessee.  During our call, Lori was able to share her perspective on how best to reach high school students, emphasizing the need for interactive activities and the integration of multiple teaching methods.  Lori also suggested a “vehicle” for program dissemination throughout the state.  I will soon be contacting the state consultant for Tennessee HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) to see if the organization would be interested in adopting the program.  Tennessee HOSA is comprised of 360 health science educators and over 11,000 students.  Lori has also offered to serve as the pilot site for the program; I hope to pilot the project in August of 2011.

Healthy Eating for Cancer Survivors

June 28, 2011

Cardiovascular Associates, Kingsport, Tennessee

Of course, program development is not the only focus of my field experience.  I have also attended, assisted with, planned and executed several outreach events.  Last week, I had the opportunity to assist with and attend a healthy eating class tailored to the nutritional needs of cancer survivors here in Appalachia.  East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health & Department of Community Health were generous enough to donate water bottles, first-aid kits and pens (see photo) to each class participant.  During the class, Kathy Visneski, a local oncology nurse, presented information on the importance of fruit and vegetable consumption, choosing lean meats and low fat dairy products, and avoiding processed foods.  She was joined by Marie Browning, a holistic nutritionist from Kingsport, TN, who prepared a menu complete with oven-“fried” chicken, a summer corn salad with a yogurt-salsa dressing, and blueberry soft-serve.  This was a very different experience for me, as I almost always find myself on the prevention side of cancer.  I was able to recognize the importance of survivorship, particularly for those impacted by melanoma, the cancer I focus on day in and day out. 

Washington County Health Council Meeting

July 6, 2011

Munsey United Methodist Church, Johnson City, Tennessee

After assisting with sun safety outreach at the Blue Plum Festival, Christen Minnick of the Washington County Health Department (Christen in now with the Northeast Tennessee Regional Health Office), invited me to speak on the topic of my choosing at an upcoming meeting of the Washington County Health Council.  I chose to present on the need to ban indoor tanning for minors in our area; I thought this to be an appropriate topic for this group, as they could potentially influence local policy.  The Council members were very receptive to my message, and several members shared their insight with me after the meeting.  I was even asked to present to the staff of the Washington County Health Department during one of their staff meetings in August (and of course, I agreed).  This experience served to drive home the fact that people truly are interested in this topic and in skin cancer prevention.  I am very much looking forward to future opportunities to share my message throughout our region.