While here in Grenada, I have had many conversations with the people- as a matter of fact, my colleagues on this trip would say I have had A LOT of conversations with the people. We have talked about everything from culture, health, family, politics, and life. One conversation about health struck me in particular where we were talking about things that can increase your risk of cancer. The woman I was talking to told me that she had been told by her doctor that cooking with aluminum foil caused cancer and that having too much sex caused cervical and prostate cancer. As she talked more about the various things her doctor had told her, I had to mask my shock at the knowledge that had been imparted on her.
Not to discredit her doctor or any healthcare professional in the Caribbean, but I have noticed a dissemination of misinformation and misguided guidance. In addition, some of the advice given, comes with a level of fear that is then instilled in the patient. That patient then goes and shares with their family and friends and once again, misinformation travels and oftentimes, it changes. My colleague described it as the game of telephone, every time the message is passed along, it changes, until you get to the end and the message has changed completely. This is a perfect example of why public health is so important and why our project in particular was so important.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, my group’s assignment was to go to Spice Island Beach Resort and facilitate education modules on cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and diet and exercise. As part of the workshop, we asked people what they knew about the topics and it was really interesting to hear what they had been told or had heard. Not only did it motivate me to want to fill those gaps in knowledge, but it also reinforced the whole purpose of us being there. The participants had health concerns and they wanted to learn more for their health’s sake as well as the health of their family and friends. It felt good to see the employees walk away with the information and guidance they sought when they reached out to us in the first place.
After finishing our workshops, I found the woman I had been speaking to previously and we had a long conversation where I essentially debunked all of the myths and misconceptions she had been told. Afterward, she was so grateful that I took the time outside of what I had been assigned to do to talk to her. These interactions and words of thanks are the ones that stick with you and in the hardest of days, you remember moments like these and it makes it all worth it. This my friends, was the highlight of my trip.