Oncology Nursing Society
Deborah Struth, MSN, RN, PhD(c), Research Associate at the Oncology Nursing Society shares more about the work they are doing to help nurses live a healthy lifestyle.
As a nurse, the transition to working for a nursing professional society was really a bit of a culture shock. The national office of the Oncology Nursing Society is in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, where the organization began a little over 42 years ago. Of our 131 employees, only 12 are nurses. As one of those nurses, I was amazed by the almost inherent commitment to wellness and health that my peers from other departments demonstrated. Wellness and health are a part of the infrastructure in our organization. We have a gym in our building that is well utilized. Tuesdays are “Bootcamp” days during lunch-time and Wednesday afternoons include yoga classes.
ONS has an employee driven Wellness Committee, led by our Payroll and Wellness Specialist, Ellie Hebb. Ellie provides staff a healthy recipe every week in our HR Update and the Wellness Committee schedules monthly activities. Ellie reports that “our wellness committee has worked with our meeting services team to expand our healthy option (beverages, snacks, meals) served at on-site ONS meetings and staff events. We also have healthy vending options where we offer snacks that have no added sugar, are only single serving sized portions, and have less than 140 mg of sodium. We post nutritional information around the office and on our wellness page on healthy eating habits, the importance of eating breakfast, increasing fruits and vegetable intake, just to name a few. We have had had speakers present information on topics such as how to eat a more plant-based diet, the benefits of eating Chia seeds, and eating for weight control. We have also had demonstrations on how to use fresh herbs and cooking demos.” In addition, the wellness committee coordinates the scheduling of times monthly for the nurses working at ONS to do blood pressure checks for staff.
Lifestyle modification – exercise and diet – are so important to people with cancer. About 30% of people diagnosed with cancer are obese. The National Cancer Institute reports that obese adults have a 60% increase in risk of gallbladder cancer and among post-menopausal women who are obese, the risk of breast cancer is increased between 20-40% compared to women of normal weight (NCI). Decreasing body mass – specifically adiposity – and improving exercise tolerance not only help control cancer related symptoms but also decreases the risk of recurrence and the development of some second cancers in our patients (Katz, A., 2017) . ONS provides webinars, conference sessions and resources to help nurses modify their risk factors related to lifestyle, but also to teach nurses how to teach patients to adopt healthful behaviors through treatment and into the post-treatment phase of the disease.
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