Hats Beat The Winter Cold – And Colorectal Cancer, Too!
NCCRT Steering Committee member Lisa C. Richardson, MD, MPH, serves as the Director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control in the National Center of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Following the holidays, winter weather starts to lose a lot of its charm; to keep myself warm on the chilliest of days, I reach for a hat. But a wooly ear flap is not the only hat I wear. Like everyone working on the 80% by 2018 initiative, I wear many hats. As an oncologist, I’ve seen too many times the results of late-stage colorectal cancer. Its devastating results on patients and families drive my commitment to prevent colorectal cancer and to find cancer early, when care and treatment have a higher chance of giving patients a long and healthy life. As a public health professional, I help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remain committed to improving colorectal cancer screening rates through healthcare provider outreach and training, community screening and partnerships, and a strong focus on educating the public.When I meet with people like yourself, I represent the CDC by working with partners to build stronger communities and maximize our efforts. Finally, I also wear the hat of a newly 50-something (it sneaks up on you when you are busy working) who urges family and friends to take the time for colorectal cancer screening. I remind them that it’s true cancer prevention, and my friends know that I’m happy to explain screening options—and then nag them until they pick one.
We all wear different hats—as a parent, a spouse, a sibling, or a friend—and we’ve been taught to keep these hats separate from our professional life. I urge you to rethink that “lesson” in light of our 80% by 2018 collaboration. The idea behind bringing many “hats” to the table is that we are able to think creatively about new ways to promote colorectal cancer screening across a variety of target audiences.To continue our collaborative efforts, I challenge you to bring your thinking caps! How can we spread the word about colorectal cancer screening to the very communities for whom it’s crucial—but not on the radar? Can we look at lessons learned and build upon those ideas? Can we think creatively and work together to ensure that we are getting our message to those who need it most?
We have made a terrific start in addressing many of these questions, and CDC-supported programs will continue to accelerate the race to 80%. Everyone has a contribution, and your “personal” hat might bring a new perspective. When you take off that hat to sit down at the hairdresser’s, ask if they would like to get involved in promoting colorectal cancer screening with the folks they know. They may have some ideas that just might work. By working together and continuing to promote cancer prevention at every level, we can reach our goal of 80% by 2018. And on that I’ll hang my hat.