A week may sound like a short period of time, but at ESTEEM so much happens in just a week’s time that it makes you feel just last weekend was a long time ago! Each week I juggle splitting my time between classes, capstone work, my research job, my side project, my self-care, and time for family and friends. It's a lot, right?!
This week in ESTEEM, I was very focused on the research project I am involved in, RLAC (Research Like a Champion), a lung cancer screening awareness project, because on Friday my team and I were scheduled to hold our first focus group discussion. We work in collaboration with the Harper Cancer Research Institute. The focus group was scheduled to be inTerre Haute, a city in Indiana where lung cancer is prevalent, and a 3.5 hour drive from South Bend.
The week flew by as I prepared the focus group discussion guide, recruited and followed up with possible participants, hired a focus group facilitator, organized the logistics, and so on. One very important thing I learned is how important it is to be working with the right team. Whoever said "It takes two flints to make a fire"couldn’t be more right! We weren’t able to get people to commit to one location in just one week's time, so we chose to conduct focus groups in two different counties. This meant that our team had to travel back and forth several times to try to get people to come to our focus group. We went to libraries, food pantries, local YMCAs... finally we were able to secure a decent number of people who agreed to participate. However, on the day of the first group, only two of 15 people actually showed up! This was very discouraging, but it's during this time that the power of having wonderful teammates becomes so evident. We lift each other up when some really feel like giving up. Fortunately, our second attempt met our goal, and we were very excited!
I was really amazed by some of the answers participants gave regarding getting screening as a whole. This experience was truly an eye-opener for me in understanding the healthcare system here in the U.S.
I am eagerly awaiting what my next week in ESTEEM will hold.