Since 1995, National Health Education Week (NHEW) has been celebrated during the third full week of October (October 17-21 this year). Sponsored by the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), this celebration focuses national attention on a major public health issue and promotes consumers’ understanding of the role of health education in promoting the public’s health.
This year’s NHEW honors the work of health education specialists and their contributions to promoting and improving population health and providing health education for wellness, disease prevention, and management.
Here at OncoLink, we consider ourselves health education specialists. We are nurses, doctors and social workers who see the value in health education and educating people about cancer fuels everything we do. Patient and caregiver education is an important component of oncology care. After a cancer diagnosis, the patient and their family are thrown into a new world with its own language that is often foreign to them. As healthcare providers, we have many opportunities to educate our patients! Just learning the “cancer lingo” is important. Education surrounding treatments, chemotherapy safety, side effect management, and practical issues like work, disability and insurance are just the tip of the iceberg.
We feel strongly that an educated patient is better able to advocate for themselves. They are better prepared to care for themselves at home, manage side effects, and safely go through treatment. Education can help ease the anxiety of the unknown. It can help debunk the many myths people are told by well-meaning friends and family. It can provide a feeling of control in and out-of-control experience. In our minds, education is a cornerstone to quality care for cancer.
This week, think about those people along the way who have helped make your experience with cancer a little easier through education. And I send a big thanks to our team at OncoLink that has made cancer education their mission every day!