A key strategy of the Rein in Sarcoma Educational Program is to reach medical professionals who are apt to first see what turns out to be a sarcoma cancer. Through such education we hope that sarcoma cancer will be diagnosed more quickly, leading to significant increases in sarcoma survivorship. RIS launched its first program directed to school nurses, starting at the Osseo School District on March 7th.
Marlee Brice, a retired RN and Red Flags Committee member, began contacting school districts last fall to evaluate interest in RIS presenting an educational program called Understanding Pediatric Sarcomas to their school nurses. Elaine Forbes of Osseo School District invited us to present to the Osseo School Nurses.
Marlee and Sue Wyckoff presented to about 25 elementary school nurses at 7:30 a.m. Marlee shared a presentation on the signs and symptoms of the three most common sarcomas in children: Rhabdomyosarcoma, Osteosarcoma, and Ewings Sarcoma. Sue followed by presenting the stories of Jocelyn Dickhoff, Julian Baultrippe and longtime survivor Julie Rose. The program was well-received and the nurses asked questions and filled out evaluation forms.
The best was yet to come, as Marlee and Sue were joined by Miranda Mead, Julie Mead, and Amy Hoban for a presentation to the secondary school nurses that afternoon. Marlee again led off with the factual information.
Then Miranda, currently a high school senior, presented her story of her eight-month battle with pain before getting to a diagnosis. (Her mother finally demanded an MRI). The nurses were very moved by her story and jumped up at the end to give her a standing ovation, asked numerous questions, with many coming forward to give her a hug. Amy Hoban, who thought she was just there to videotape the presentation was then asked to relate her sarcoma story.
After two compelling stories of delayed diagnosis, the nurses were asking for extra printed materials. In reflecting on this first school nurse sarcoma education program, the nurse coordinator of the Osseo School District, Elaine Forbes, wrote:
“I just wanted to tell you how wonderful and powerful your talk was yesterday! I appreciated hearing your personal stories. This does help us put a face on this disease, knowing the struggles, and triumphs that can be made when sarcoma is diagnosed early. I know your work to educate others can make a difference.
I will recommend other metro nurse leaders contact you so they too can learn about sarcoma."
This was a great beginning to a new component of our Hallie Anne Brown Educational Initiative. We hope to get on more of the continuing education calendars for School Nurses and also Athletic Directors. Thanks go to Marlee for educating the nurses, Amy for sharing her story and videotaping, and to Miranda for touching their hearts, as each nurse could see in Miranda a potential student of their own.