Thursday, October 23, 2014

Guest Post: Breast Cancer Awareness by Irma Corona

breast cancer awareness
At some point in our lives cancer will touch us.  Some of us will experience the disease through a family member, significant other, or friend, while others will face the battle personally. 1 out of every 36 women in the United States will learn about breast cancer intimately and it will lead her death (ACS, 2014).  The key to minimizing one’s risk of becoming part of this statistic is awareness.

Breast cancer awareness includes being knowledgeable about what predispositions  a woman may have that can cause the disease to present itself; being aware of preventative measures that an individual can take; and having the ability to recognize the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.  Unavoidable factors that increase a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer include being older in age, having the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene, a biological family member being diagnosed with the disease, having dense breasts, early menses (before age 12), menopause after the age of 55, having had cancer as a child or adolescent, and haven taken the medication Diethylstilbestrol during pregnancy (ACS, 2014).  

After reading this list, you may be feeling a little uneasy because many women may fall into one or more of these categories at some point in her life.  To ease your fears, let me inform you of some of the preventative measures that can be taken to minimize a woman’s risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.  Routine physical activity, weight management, and maintaining a healthy diet have all been shown to reduce a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer (ACS, 2014). For those who fall into the high-risk category, either due having a genetic disposition or multiple risk factors for breast cancer, seeking medical advice from a healthcare professional is the best course of action (ACS, 2014). 

In addition to taking preventative measures, it is important for women over the age of 20 perform self-breast exams, as well as have clinical breast exams performed by a healthcare professional, women age 40 and above should have an annual screening mammogram, and all women should know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer as early detection is the key to an increased rate of survival (ACS, 2014).  Among the signs and symptoms of breast cancer are swelling of the breast, skin irritation or dimpling of the breast, breast pain, nipple pain, redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin, and abnormal nipple discharge (ACS, 2014).

Arming yourself with all these facts will not only increase your awareness about breast cancer, but will also put you one step ahead of the disease should it ever rear its ugly head.   My hope is that you will pass your knowledge on and become an advocate for breast cancer awareness.   Together we can make a difference in cancer awareness because as Francis Bacon and Mark Shield once said,  “knowledge is power and there is strength in numbers.”


American Cancer Society.  (2014).  Breast cancer.  Retrieved from

Irma Corona is currently a doctoral student in Health Studies at Texas Woman's University.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Guest Post: National Health Education Week by Jaimi Allen

National Health Education Week
national health education week
Health education draws on various sciences and uses a theory-driven approach to prevent disease, illness, injury, and premature death and to promote health (Society for Public Health Education [SOPHE], 2014). Health education specialists (HES) utilize health education and health promotion to foster healthy decision-making among individuals, groups, and communities through increasing understanding, attitudes, and skills (SOPHE, 2014).

In an effort to raise awareness on how health education and HES impact public health, SOPHE began sponsoring National Health Education Week (NHEW). Beginning in 1995, NHEW is celebrated every third full week in October. This year’s NHEW falls on October 20-24th and will honor the next generation of specialists with various themes each day. The future relies on the young leaders and health education specialists. Therefore, it is imperative that current health educators focus on mentoring and supporting them, which is one of the reasons why this year’s theme focuses on the future of the profession by celebrating these young and bright individuals (SOPHE, 2014).

2014 NHEW daily themes:
  • Day 1, Monday, October 20:  Creating a shared vision for the future of health education
  • Day 2, Tuesday, October 21: Training and educating the next generation of HES
  • Day 3, Wednesday, October 22: Highlighting 30 HES under the age of 30
  • Day 4, Thursday, October 23: Employing the next generation of HES
  • Day 5, Friday, October 24: Mentoring the next generation of HES

In addition to hosting virtual events aimed at each of the varying themes, SOPHE provides a NHEW Toolkit including detailed instructions to encourage professionals to host local NHEW events. Be sure to check out the SOPHE website for additional information and resources. 

Society for Public Health Education. (2014). National health education week. Retrieved from

Jaimi L. Allen is currently in the Health Studies Doctoral Program at Texas Woman’s University. Her focal area is public health and her research interests include a wide variety of topics such as physical activity, sexuality, and body image. She is an active service member of the United States Navy Reserves and a full-time clinical instructor at the University of Central Arkansas. UCA is also where she earned her undergraduate and graduate degree focusing on health education and community health.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Spotlight - Interview with Dr. Ann Rathbun, Program Director for Health Studies

We had the opportunity to sit down virtually with Dr. Ann Rathbun, the new program director for Health Studies, and chat with her a bit about her background, alter ego, and the future of health education. Here's what she had to say:

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am a native Texan and am from Amarillo, Texas. I spent 10 years in Denton County getting my Masters, working and earning my Ph.D. in the 1990s. After 2 professorates - one in Ohio and one in Kentucky-totaling 15 years, I am HOME!!! I have played the cello for more than 40 years and have been able to live in university towns where there are opportunities to play with an orchestra.  I love to cook, read, walk for fitness and listen to music…I hate to practice the cello!

As an alum, what is the best part about being back at TWU?  
The best part about being back is the feeling of my life (personal and professional) coming full circle. I left here to begin my profession as a health educator and now I am back where I began but with experience and skills that I didn’t have when I was here before.  Personally, my time away from Texas was nothing short of transformative for me.  I moved to a place where I didn’t know a single soul and had to grow up and grow into my own person.  It was a great experience for me in so many ways.

How do you define student success and what are some of the ways you help students achieve success?

I define student success as GROWTH.  On the path to success students will experience ups and downs, successes and disappointments.  If students will learn from all of those experiences they will ultimately grow into unique and qualified professionals who will contribute to the profession. If students do not allow themselves to learn and grow from ALL experiences, they will never truly be successful.

It has been my “quest” in past years to maintain an open door policy with all students.  The open door allows students to come to for help or support without the barrier of a physical (or perceived) door.  By maintaining this practice of openness, students took the opportunity to engage in informal mentoring, get support, and connect to someone at the university.  In my experience, there is not one single faculty or staff member that will connect with all students; rather, some students will gravitate toward certain mentors and others will go elsewhere.

As many of our students know, we like to have fun in Health Studies. We have held themed orientations complete with alter egos such as Mo Solo, Hoda Fett, and Dee Dee Wan Kenobi from our Star Wars orientation. We also had a Mission Impossible orientation with passports and top secret missions. Sometimes we even make up code names for each other.  Who would your alter ego be or what would your code name be?    

Alter ego:  Ringmaster P.  Sometimes the workplace (ANY workplace) can be a bit of a circus in that there is always a LOT of things going on all at once.  The Ringmaster’s job is to know what is going on and coordinate, as much as possible, all the acts that occur simultaneously.  I like that sort of challenge and enjoy dappling in many different areas.  The “P”????  Well…..that is for a later edition of this blog. 

Since it's October and Halloween isn't too far away, let's pull out our crystal ball for a moment. What do you see for the future of health education?   

I see a world where the profession BLOWS UP due to the changes in the Affordable Care Act.  The services that health educators can provide will be billable (aka reimbursed by insurance).  Nurses cannot do what we do because they have different training and education.  Likewise, physicians have very specialized skill sets that do not include things such as behavior change or coaching for change in terms of health and wellness.  There is a gap in healthcare and there is an entire population of health educators waiting in the wings to fill that gap.  We must, however; advocate for our profession to make this vision a reality.

What is your favorite quote and why?  

“What goes around, comes around.”  I love this because I feel that what you put out there comes back to you tenfold.  If you put love out there, you will get love back!

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?  

I am glad to be in Texas, in Denton, on campus and in CFO….where education makes professional careers possible!

If you haven't had a chance yet, we hope you will drop her a line and welcome her to TWU Health Studies! You can reach Dr. Rathbun at

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