A Day in the Life: Working with Communities to Improve Health and Lessen Cancer Disparities

by Ashley Housten, OTD, OTR/L, MSCI, MPA
The Siteman Cancer Center Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities (PECaD) hosted a Community Health Education Day in East St. Louis, Illinois on July 11, 2015. Partnering with the East Side Health District and other community organizations, community health workers, citizens, and cancer survivors came together to discuss cancer risk and health. With approximately 25 in attendance at the East St Louis Community College Center, PECaD and the Division of Public Health staff led workshops on 8IGHT WAYS to Prevent Cancer, Colon Health, Exercise and Nutrition, Cancer Survivorship, and Understanding Research. This was the first Community Health Outreach Day hosted by PECaD in Illinois and proved to be an exciting event for staff and participants. 

During the event, participants were able to walk through a large, inflatable model of a colon and see examples of conditions that can increase the risk of colon cancer. Saffiyah Muhammad, MPH, the PECaD program coordinator explained how the inflatable colon is an important learning tool:

“Participants are able to see the differences between a healthy colon, early stages, and advanced colon cancer. This visual facilitates discussion and helps our participants understand what colon cancer looks like in the body.” 

With this innovative teaching tool, participants are immersed in the educational experience and are compelled to engage in meaningful conversations about screening, cancer, and survivorship.

Community Health Education events are just one part of PECaD. The primary goal of the Program is to work through community partnerships to develop outreach and education, quality improvement and research, and training strategies that will foster healthy communities and environments less burdened by cancer disparities. By working with community organizations, cancer survivors, clinicians, researchers and advocates to enhance education and awareness about cancer risk and prevention we aim to reduce cancer disparities.

Developing partnerships in St. Louis and the surrounding communities provide the opportunity to increase outreach and engagement with community members. Through community partnerships, education, and outreach we plan to continue hosting health education events. 

Visit the PECaD website to learn more about our community events and how to get involved. Keep an eye out for the inflatable colon model.  It’s a must see! 

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