Building an Optimal Cancer Awareness or Community Outreach Program

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Breast cancer charity event
Breast cancer charity event

The role of an oncology navigator is to provide guidance and help patients achieve optimal outcomes. Part of their mission is to educate the lay public. So, Oncology Nurse Advisor asked some oncology navigators what do they think makes for a successful cancer awareness or community outreach program?

Personal, Fun, Family Friendly

Frank dela Rama, RN, MSN, CNS, who is with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Northern California, said he believes one of the first steps is to make take a personal approach. He said some of his medical center's most successful events have involved people sharing their journey through cancer.

For a prostate cancer awareness event, several prostate cancer survivors shared their stories. Two of the men underwent surgery and 2 others opted for radiation therapy. The men told their stories from diagnosis through treatment and into survivorship. “This was followed by a Q&A session with the audience, with a urologist and radiation oncologist, to address any medical questions. The focus was definitely on the shared experience of cancer, and the message really hit home for those attending,” dela Rama told Oncology Nurse Advisor.

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dela Rama said making sure the event is fun makes all the difference. He said people should be excited about attending. “We were lucky enough to have a local hotel and champagne producer sponsor a breast cancer event, featuring a dinner with champagne pairing. The event quickly sold out each year we hosted this. It was a great way to gather interest in our organization and our mission in the local community,” dela Rama explained.

A couple of cancer survivors made brief presentations during the dinner. However, most of the time was simply dedicated to enjoying food and drink. Another suggestion he has is to market your event early, often, and everywhere. 

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