A Curated Journey: Breast Cancer – Diagnosis to Survival

A Curated Journey: Breast Cancer – Diagnosis to Survival

Featuring Gina Ann Richter, Ph.D., Director of Curation at St. Charles

Larry Durham:
Welcome to The HIVE. I’m your host, Larry Durham. Thanks for joining us for today’s show. If you are one of our many listeners, you know that we normally invite learning and talent development experts to be guests on the show and they are not affiliated with St. Charles Consulting Group. However, as we were preparing for this episode of the HIVE, we had an opportunity that I just felt was too important to pass up. I think we all know that October is breast cancer awareness month. We see sports teams wearing pink, company’s putting pink ribbons on their social media accounts or events and fundraisers to promote breast cancer research and awareness. Our podcast listeners also know that the topic of curation comes up frequently on our show, so we saw an opportunity today to highlight those topics in one discussion. Today we are honored to have Dr. Gina Ann Richter as our guest. Some of you may know Gina, she serves as our lead of Curation at St. Charles and she recently curated a learning path on breast cancer. Gina, welcome to the podcast.

Gina Ann Richter:
Thank you, Larry. I’m really happy to be here. Talking about probably one of my favorite subjects, curation and another subject that I really didn’t think I’d ever have any expertise in.

Larry Durham:
Great. It’s good to have you here. For our listeners who don’t know you, why don’t you tell them a little bit about your background?

Gina Ann Richter:
So, I think the last 20 plus years I’ve spent a ton of time, not just learning, but also from an instructional design perspective, designing learning experiences. And it seems like I’m always at the cutting, sometimes bleeding edge of technology and it’s led me to the shift of create to curate and now with St. Charles. So, again, happy to be here.

Getting involved with Breast Cancer

Larry Durham:
Awesome. Now you mentioned something in your introduction, you talked about dealing with something that you hadn’t dealt with before. I know the reason that we had you and invited you on the podcast is one, you’re a curation expert, but you recently curated a learning pathway on breast cancer. What prompted you to curate or develop that pathway on breast cancer?

Gina Ann Richter:
So I think that as someone that’s been really embedded in many organizations as a consultant, trying to get everybody to shift from create to curate and a learning culture. Once I was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram, which of course was a complete surprise, no symptoms, no illness, felt actually probably better than I’ve felt in better shape than in years and I’m always a very active individual. It just seemed to me that it was a perfect combination because I began to understand how important it is to advocate as a patient and as someone so embedded in learning and how important learning is. I just jumped in with both feet.

Larry Durham:
Yeah, there’s nothing like personal experience to really bring it home or make it for individuals. When you were creating this pathway, I know you’ve spent a lot of time in curation and developing and curating learning pathways. Who was this pathway designed for specifically?

Gina Ann Richter:
Yeah, that’s a great question. So, as a consultant, certainly we always talk about audience first and when I drove in with both feet, I just kind of started collecting everything that I found really important as I was going through this journey of surviving cancer from initial diagnosis through now that I am a survivor of cancer and it shifted a little bit. At first, it was for anyone that was diagnosed with my specific cancer. Then I broadened it to anyone that was really diagnosed with cancer. Although, there is a significant amount of information regarding specifically to breast cancer. But I think ultimately the audience is anyone that has a loved one with cancer that’s going through chemo as well as anyone that knows someone with breast cancer or is experiencing breast cancer themselves. So, I think what’s great about having a learning pathway is that you can jump around and I’ve segmented to the point where there’s one section on nutrition and exercise is just section on chemotherapy. There’s a section on how do you figure out what your recurrence rate is, all of which can be jumped in on from multiple audiences.

How Does The Learning Pathway Add Value?

Larry Durham: 
I gotcha. And how do you think this learning path adds value to them? You talked about a couple of things there around nutrition and what to expect. Is it around what to expect or how to cope or what should individuals and loved ones who take this expect or how does it add value for them do you think?

Gina Ann Richter:
Really great question. So, I had several, what I like to call ah-ha moments through the journey. One of my major ah-ha moments was that my oncologist as good as she is, and I’m lucky enough to live in the New York area, so I went to the best, which you know they’ve been recorded as the best, Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Institute, but the bottom line is an oncologist is only there to cure your specific cancer and if the chances of doing that are the best with a specific treatment, that’s what they’ll all sign. And they’re very much less worried about what the side effects are from that treatment. But, I think that was a huge ah-ha moment because I think that’s why we have to advocate for ourselves and educate ourselves because for someone like myself, if a side effect was possible, heart disease, taking a few pills every day for heart disease is not something that would, someone that’s not active possibly, but someone with my active lifestyle that could be devastating and life-changing.

What Mindset Does it Take to Survive Cancer?

Larry Durham:
Great insight. I know that you and I’ve had a number of conversations and you often when you work with clients, I know that you talked to your clients about a mindset, the skillset, and then a toolset, a little bit different question, but what mindset does it take to survive cancer? Fortunately, I know you’re in that group of individuals and hopefully, that’s a growing group of individuals, but what’s the mindset that it takes to survive cancer?

Gina Ann Richter:
Yeah, I think that was another aha moment of fine for sure. So I think having a positive look and understanding that this is the cards that you were Adele and it’s not the greatest set of cards at that time, but that that it’s possibly just a bump in the road because for many patients it is moving forward from cancer is more commonplace than ever before. There are a lot of us now survivors of cancer and I think beyond the positive mindset really having that grit and resilience, which kind of always, I found that interesting because I talked to my clients too about all of these things. Having grit, having resilience, having a positive outlook. I was a huge fan of Shawn Aker and “The Happiness Advantage” and I actually have in my calendar and my Google calendar, it says, what are you grateful for every day?

Was There Anything That Surprised You On Your Journey?

Larry Durham:
Great point. Great point. I think we can all learn something from that. You don’t know what you’re promised and sometimes your reality is maybe different than what you’d like it to be. I think that’s great insight. You did mention a couple of ah-ha’s already, but as we were preparing for this podcast and I was thinking about your experience, what was it that you were surprised to learn on this journey? Both, I guess, through breast cancer and as well as putting together the learning path related to it? What were you surprised to learn?

Gina Ann Richter:
So I think it’s funny, it kind of goes back to my oncologist. There’s a couple of things. One thing that really surprised me was what it takes for an oncologist to recommend the treatment. So for example, I found a ton of research regarding the fact that if you fast for a certain period of time or if even you put your body into a fasting, uh, mimic fast, that you can get more benefit from chemo and you can actually reduce the side effects. So this was a specific question I asked my oncologist and her response was, we don’t recommend this, but you’re right, there’s a ton of research out there today and it’s building every day that specific strategy can be extremely helpful during the process. And if you’re strong enough to do it, I recommend it. So you know, it’s another example of really advocating for yourself and understanding what’s out there. And there’s so much out there today in every topic area, which is what’s so exciting about curation that there’s no reason for anyone to not be armed with that type of information.

What Feedback Have You Received Over The Learning Pathway

Larry Durham: 
Yeah, that’s what I love so much about curation is the amount of information that’s out there, but then individuals like yourself who curate on a topic and bring an experiential firsthand point of view. There’s a lot of insight that maybe we wouldn’t normally get from just what I would call straight-up training. I’m curious, what feedback have you received from those that have accessed the curated path on this topic?

Gina Ann Richter: 
I think being surprised about some of the tools too. So for instance, in the UK, they’ve developed a tool where you can plug in all of your breast cancer information, your tumor size, the treatment options that you’re going to select, and it will calculate your occurrence risk. You know, there are just so many tools out there and this goes to that mindset skillset, toolset, right. And then, you know, what else can you uncover for yourself and really thinking about from a perspective of your quality and quantity of the life.

Are Learning Pathways The Future of Learning?

Larry Durham: 
That’s a really good point. Obviously this learning pathway is not only relevant but very personal to you. Given your firsthand experience with cancer as well as your role as a curation expert. I’m curious, uh, I’ve thought about this a lot. Do you see this being the future of learning, which is contributing firsthand experience and knowledge as well as the ability and desire to share that with others? Because what you’ve done is kind of brought those two things together. Do you see that as kind of where the future of learning is heading?

Gina Ann Richter:
Yes, absolutely. I think that goes back to, you know, we can no longer be the smartest person in the room. I think that we can all be the smartest person in the room for a very specific narrow topic these days and to be able to, you know, crowdsource some specific topics. Like for example, this breast cancer. I think we have discussions all the time with our clients as far as where are those subject matter experts reside. I think that it’s still takes that interaction with someone that understands how to tell an effective story from a learning perspective. So instructional designers don’t have to worry about their jobs disappearing, but you just have to evolve and the way we evolve is that it’s a different interaction with those subject matter experts and there’s a sliding scale of the ability for those individuals secure it on their own with some upskilling as well as enabling a journey that makes sense depending on the topic, whether it’s extremely technical or inexperienced based topic, like what we’re talking about.

Larry Durham: 
Great insight. I was curious as I was thinking about the show today, and I know you’ve been curating for a long time, well in curation years but was developing this pathway that was so personal and specific to you. Was it substantially different than developing a more business and skill centric topic? Like sometimes we do.

 

Gina Ann Richter: 
I think it was cathartic, if that’s a word. It really was part of my ability to have a therapeutic experience. But as far as the process itself and getting it done, I still thought about my objectives, my audience, which we just talked about and what I felt were sort of the pivot on the way. So when I talk about a learning pathway for breast cancer, you start thinking about, you know, like we talked about the nutrition, the exercise, the recurrence rate, you know, what are the major pivots for or decision point during that process. So it was a little different in that it wasn’t, you know, we weren’t talking about business impact and what the goal was from a business perspective, but we still talked about goals and objectives and I still outlined what I wanted to get done. And ultimately I think just because of who I am, it was a process that enabled me to feel like I was giving back, which was a nice process for me.

Contact Information:

Larry Durham: 
That’s great. That’s great. Well one, on behalf of our listeners, I wanted to say thank you for sharing your experience. Not only as a curator but as a breast cancer survivor. I know we’re all thankful for that. Thank you for sharing your insights, your story. I know I enjoyed it and I’m sure our listeners benefited from your expertise as well. If our guests would like to connect with you or have questions about the learning pathway on cancer and breast cancer, what’s the best way for them to contact you?

Gina Ann Richter: 
So through the podcasts that hive notes, I believe we will have some information and I’m really looking forward to publishing the learning pathway, which will also be available from the St. Charles site through the HIVE notes, but certainly I would not mind a, someone contacting me directly for any insights on the topic, either topic curation or breast cancer.

Larry Durham:
Great. So what we’ll do for our listeners, we’ll put a link to Gina via email, should you have questions about breast cancer or curation? We’ll put that link in the podcast notes and as she mentioned, we’ll also put a link through our website as to how to get access to the curated pathway on breast cancer. Obviously it is, it’s free to our listeners. If you’re impacted directly have ones or someone who might benefit from that, obviously we would welcome you sharing that. We think it’s a great resource, a great opportunity, and as I said at the top of the podcast, we think it’s a real opportunity, especially in this month of October around breast cancer awareness to highlight that. All right. Appreciate it. Gina, thanks for being on the show and that will do it for this episode of the hive. Thanks for listening and we’ll catch you next time.

Podcast Notes:

If you are interested in being a guest on the HIVE Podcast or would like to make a suggestion for an upcoming topic, please email us here.

If you would like to contact our host, Larry Durham, click here.

If you would like to connect with Gina Ann Richter, click here.

If you would like to gain access and view the Surviving Breast Cancer Learning Pathway Gina created, please click here to register and view the pathway.