Archive for September, 2011
Editor’s Note: This story appears in the latest E-newsletter of Salud America!, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) network to prevent obesity among Latino kids, directed by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Laura Kettel Khan rarely stepped foot outside Arizona as a child.
She raised horses and enjoyed church-based activities there. Her family didn’t travel much. She even went to study at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Her life changed when she joined the Peace Corps in the 1980s.
Kettel Khan—despite not knowing Spanish at the time—was assigned to nutrition issues in Latin America. She found herself in a 300-person Honduran village, helping raise animals and building chicken coops at the village school, thus adding eggs to the daily diets of impoverished children.
She worked hard with the community leadership to build a gravity-based piping system to bring potable water to every home.
“I got a letter, some 20 years later, that the piping system and coops were still providing safe water and eggs to the community,” she said. “It was one of the proudest days of my life.”
“My experience in Honduras—and later experiences in Egypt, U.S./Mexico border projects in community medicine, and the White Mountain Apache Indian Tribe—have given me unusual sensitivity to the role of culture in nutrition and health.”
During her postdoctoral work at the Division of Nutritional Sciences of Cornell University, she was awarded a National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health in 1993 to study the correlates of overweight and obesity in U.S. Hispanics. In 1996, she received an NIH FIRST award to study overweight in Mexican-American children. Recently she authored an influential 2009 CDC paper, “Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States.”
Today, Kettel Khan is applying that knowledge of nutrition and culture as senior health scientist for policy and partnerships at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Her primary interest remains the global problem of overweight/obesity and chronic disease, particularly as it relates to policy systems, and environmental change in communities. Her current passion is working to build knowledge of practice-based evidence for obesity prevention.
She also is an advisor for Salud America!
“Latino childhood obesity remains a critical issue for the health of our nation and other nations,” she said. “We must take culture into account when striving to change our environments.”
Dr. Amelie Ramirez, director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday, is among a handful of people named “Champions of Change” by the White House for their contributions to ending suffering from breast cancer, the leading cancer diagnosed in women today.
Each week the White House highlights “Champions” who are making an impact in their communities and helping to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
“I am honored to be named a ‘Champion of Change.’ I hope it puts a spotlight on breast cancer, the No. 1 cancer killer of Latinas,” Dr. Ramirez said. “We must conduct research to discover new and efficient methods to help Latinas overcome critical barriers to breast cancer screening and assure that Latinas across the nation and international can receive timely, high quality and comprehensive cancer treatment, and go on to live long and fruitful lives.”
Dr. Ramirez, who also is associate director of health disparities at the Health Science Center’s Cancer Therapy & Research Center and a board member for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, has directed many research programs focused on human and organizational communication to reduce Latino cancer health disparities in cancer risk factors, clinical trial recruitment and healthy lifestyles. Her projects have led to unique health communication models and interventions that have contributed to the reduction of Latino breast cancer rates and the increase of screening among Latinos, including testing the effectiveness of patient navigation in decreasing Latinas’ lag time between an abnormal mammogram and confirmatory diagnosis and treatment initiation.
Ramirez was nominated as a Champion of Change by Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
She and four others nominated by Komen were announced Sept. 27 and represent the full range of Komen’s work to end breast cancer, from public policy advocates to researchers and clinicians who advise Komen on the direction of research to bring treatments and answers to patients in the shortest period of time.
Other Komen-nominated champions were Elyse Gellerman of Denver, Dr. Anne Marie Murphy of Chicago, Dr. Ann Partridge of New Bedford, Mass., and Robin Prothro of Baltimore.
“These women are on the front lines of breast cancer every day as leaders of research, clinical practice and advocacy for women facing this disease,” said Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, in a statement. “We are delighted that they are being recognized for their passion, talent, and significant work for women and men facing breast cancer.”
According to the LIVESTRONG blog: “LIVESTRONG is about people. We are about the 28 million right now fighting cancer. We are about their family members, their friends, their co-workers and classmates. If there is one thing we know for sure it is that we all have a story to share and the more we share the stronger our community.”
LIVESTRONG invites you to share your cancer story here and wear yellow in honor of LIVESTRONG Day.
- Latino families overcome barriers to healthy eating? (Page 1)
- “Walking school buses” keep Latino kids fit? (Page 3)
- Health coaching improve Latino child and family health? (Page 4)
Find answers in the new Salud America! E-newsletter.
Also find out the latest in Latino childhood obesity policy, news and updates on Salud America!, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) network to prevent obesity among Latino kids.
The network is directed by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, which developed SaludToday.
Visit Salud America! here.
To sign up to receive Salud America! E-newsletters, go here.
SaludToday Guest Blogger: Patti Murillo-Casa
It was October 2008 when I was diagnosed with Stage IIB Cervical Cancer only three months after I had retired from the NYC Police Department and was ready to enjoy retirement with my husband.
I had not visited my GYN doctor for over three years. Why did I not go to the doctor sooner? Because of the many reasons that women use as an excuse: I was too busy, I had no time, I felt fine, I hate going to the gynecologist and I had been with my husband for over 10 years.
Looking back, I see how foolish these reasons were and the tremendous consequences that followed because I chose to be careless with my health.
Once I finally saw my gynecologist because of several symptoms, he told me I had a tumor and since it was too big, I was not a good candidate for a hysterectomy. The course of action we were going to have to take ( if we had any chance of beating this) was chemotherapy, external radiation for 8 weeks and two treatments of internal radiation.
I was about to start the fight for my life. The journey was long and difficult, but I had the support of my wonderful husband, family and friends, who gave me strength and made me realize the many blessings around me which comforted me, because I was scared beyond belief.
I started treatment early January 2009. Eight weeks went by and I thought the worst of these treatments had passed. I was wrong! I started a course of internal radiation, in which the doctors inserted an implant inside my cervix with radiation rods. I had to stay in the hospital for 3 days and absolutely no visitors were allowed due to the exposure of radiation. I never felt so ALONE.
On May 5, 2009 I went in for a scan to see if all of these treatments had worked. Thankfully, my tumor was GONE and there were no cancer cells visible. The nightmare was over!!!
Due to lack of education and misconceptions of the disease on my part, I was embarrassed that I had cervical cancer due to HPV (a sexually transmitted infection). I couldn’t understand how I got this until I started educating myself about HPV and its link to cervical cancer.
In the U.S. alone, 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and nearly 4,000 will die every year.
Cervical cancer is caused by “high-risk” types of the human papillomavirus (HPV), and at least 50 percent of sexually active women will have HPV at some point in their lives. Two of the major issues with this disease are lack of education and lack of screening. Early detection through pap tests and HPV testing are key to preventing this disease from developing into cancer.
Currently, I am cancer free and I use my story to let women know that my story doesn’t have to be theirs and that they don’t have to be a statistic. I am also the NYC Chapter President of Tamika and Friends, Inc. (www.tamikaandfriends.org), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about cervical cancer. No women should die of this disease nor lose their fertility to cervical cancer.
These materials offer adaptable strategies and tools for individuals to incorporate regular physical activity into an overall healthy lifestyle.
Be Active Your Way: A Guide for Adults encourages individuals to get the amount of physical activity they need, based on the Guidelines and their own goals.
Be Active Your Way: A Fact Sheet for Adults is a quick overview of the types and amount of physical activity recommended in the Guidelines.
Download these and others English/Spanish resources from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans here.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing series that will highlight the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s work in Latino communities across the country.
SaludToday Guest Blogger: Josh Gryniewicz
Eddie Bocanegra is part of a unique group known as “violence interrupters” in the organization CeaseFire.
He works in areas of Chicago that some refer to as war zones because violence is such a pervasive and intractable problem. From January through July 2011, the city recorded 239 murders; 18% of victims and 29% of offenders were Latino.
CeaseFire, founded in 2000, applies public health approaches to stop shootings and killings. Founder Gary Slutkin believes that violence mimics infections like tuberculosis and AIDS and suggests that the response ought to mimic the way these diseases are treated: by preventing violence from being transmitted from person to person. His strategy approaches violence as a learned behavior that can, in fact, be unlearned, and attempts to control epidemics of violence by changing the norms of behavior. Ultimately, Slutkin believes that meaningful efforts to help violence-plagued communities – improving health, strengthening schools, attracting jobs – will fail to take root unless the violence stops.
Eddie Bocanegra, a 34-year-old Chicago native, has been a violence interrupter for two years. Violence interrupters intervene in conflicts throughout the city on an around-the-clock basis and even step in between a would-be shooter and victim to try to defuse a volatile situation. They also work with CeaseFire’s outreach workers to counsel and mentor individuals who are most at risk of committing an act of violence and rally community members to reinforce the unacceptability of violence in their neighborhoods.
Like many of those involved in CeaseFire, Eddie Bocanegra is an ex-offender. He spent 14 years in prison for a murder he committed when he was just 17. Haunted by this action, he feels his CeaseFire work is part of his penance. He hopes to keep others from making the mistakes he did.
“Half of my life, I was in prison. That’s why I do what I do now. To me, it’s a personal thing,” he says.
Eddie Bocanegra is most deeply disturbed by the effects of violence on children. He spends much of his time with younger children in an effort to both keep them off the streets and give them support. Eddie Bocanegra’s work and dedication is highlighted in a new documentary, “The Interrupters,” by acclaimed director Steve James and producer Alex Kotlowitz. The movie follows Eddie Bocanegra and two other CeaseFire outreach workers in their roles on Chicago’s streets, revealing how their unique street credibility helps them stop the violence and inspire journeys of hope and redemption.
A recent study by the Department of Justice found that in six of seven Chicago neighborhoods where CeaseFire has been on the ground, shootings and homicides or shootings and attempted shootings decreased by 16 percent to 34 percent due to the program.
In addition to his work with CeaseFire, Eddie Bocanegra has started a support group for mothers who have lost children to violence, and he teaches art in schools and summer programs. He is working toward a degree in social work.
Think Cultural Health, a website from the U.S. Office of Minority Health, provides a one-stop shop for cultural competency resources and training opportunities.
With growing concerns about health inequities and the need for health care systems to reach increasingly diverse patient populations, cultural competence is becoming more a matter of national concern.
The TCH website, which is dedicated to advancing health equity at every point of contact, offers resources and tools to promote cultural and linguistic competency in health care. Visitors can access free and accredited continuing education programs as well as tools to help providers and organizations provide respectful, understandable and effective services.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011, Síclovía will open up 2-plus miles along Broadway for biking, running, skating, and just playing in the street and adjacent parks, while redirecting cars elsewhere.
A joint venture by the City of San Antonio and the YMCA, Síclovía is a Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative to prevent and reduce obesity in our community.
Find out more here.
To volunteer, send your contact info to email@example.com.
Depression, in addition to other barriers, may prevent Latina breast cancer survivors from undergoing preventive health screening for colorectal and ovarian cancer, according to a new study.
The study was presented by Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, professor and director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, on Sept. 19, 2011, at the Fourth AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Washington D.C.
“Depression can make people more inattentive to potential risks to their health and more likely to ignore recommendations to reduce their risk,” Dr. Ramirez said.
Because depression is more common among breast cancer patients than the general population and because 10% of all new cancers are diagnosed in cancer survivors, Ramirez and colleagues examined the extent of depression among a group of 117 Latina breast cancer survivors to assess the barriers that were thwarting preventive health screening for colorectal and ovarian cancer.
All of the outcomes were self-reported and all patients were screened for depression.
“The most important thing that we found was that Hispanic breast cancer survivors were more depressed than Hispanics in the general population, and that they were not following recommendations to continue their other cancer screening behaviors,” Dr. Ramirez said.
Of the women who were surveyed, about one-third met the criteria for depression. Only five had been screened for both colorectal and ovarian cancers and about 60% had not been screened for one cancer or the other.
Ramirez said that a broad-based preventive strategy is needed to increase screening and healthy behaviors among this population.
“Regardless of depression or not, we need to work with these women to help them understand that they need to get more involved with their health care,” she said. “We also have to get a better handle on the underpinnings of depression among cancer survivors.”
Read more here.