The more we all know about cancer, the better we can work together

  • David O’Halloran – 

David O’Halloran is Director of O’Halloran Consultancy and provides cancer training and educational resources developed specifically for individuals and teams working within cancer related environments. David facilitates An Introduction to Cancer and Understanding Cancer Treatments at The School of Oncology.

David explains why his role as a cancer education specialist is so valuable?

 Why do you think that ‘sharing knowledge’ is important?

I am passionate about empowering people through education and believe that fighting cancer starts with learning about cancer, and that insight and understanding is fundamental for people working in a cancer related field. The more people that know about this disease, the more we can share this knowledge and educate others. It is going to be difficult to ‘treat’ our way out of what is a cancer epidemic, but we might be able to highlight the risk factors associated with cancer, and reduce the burden by reducing the numbers coming through with cancer. I believe it is the duty of every healthcare professional working in the cancer field to be able to talk about it intelligently with other professionals and patients alike.

Access to high quality cancer training and education provides its challenges and I recognise the need to improve the delivery of training to oncology professionals including nurses, researchers, therapists and others who work in this environment. 

What do you mean by “With knowledge comes confidence”?

When you work in this field you are expected to know about cancer as a disease (and rightly so!). With knowledge comes confidence, with confidence you engender trust, with trust you can deliver better quality to your patients or clients. Patients are very well educated about their specific cancer. We need match that knowledge and talk to them in a way that understands their specific situation.

Can you outline how people can gain this knowledge?

There are lots of resources out there for people who want to learn about cancer. Many of the books are too technical for a lot of people and require some background in biology or medicine. Many of the courses also assume prior knowledge.

I recognise the need to provide educational resources that start from the fundamentals. For example, you cannot describe what a ‘carcinoma’ is without first understanding about cells and tissues within the body. It is difficult to talk about cancer as an abnormality, without first looking at what is normal within the cells of the body. Many people assume this level of knowledge, but my experience shows that a lot of people miss this step out. Cancer, its biology and subsequent terminology is complicated. To allow someone to understand it the learning needs to be layered, building on previous layers of knowledge until ultimately, we can discuss complicated topics around cancer.

We can only do that if we have the resources and access to good quality cancer education and I provide cancer training and educational resources developed specifically for individuals and teams working within cancer related environments. Learning experiences that bear levels of prior experience and knowledge into account. Resources that take into account cost, location and time, which is why I have designed face-to-face course as well as remote webinar learning through live, internet lectures. My aim is to allow access to good quality cancer training available to all within the cancer team.

Can you tell us about the training you do here at The Christie and around the UK?

My Introduction to Cancer and Cancer Treatments courses encompasses an overall understanding of cancer as a disease. You will learn how it relates to the cells and tissues found in the normal body, quickly progressing on to learning about cancer as a disease. The content will be relevant, clear, sometimes thought-provoking and thorough. The information is brought across in a way you will understand. The atmosphere is relaxed and safe for questions to be asked, and above all you will have some fun.

The Christie is a world-renowned centre for cancer care and treatment. Everyone who works in any cancer centre should have a fundamental understanding of the disease. All patients who encounter staff at the centre should have the confidence that they are receiving the best possible care. Knowledge of the disease increases that confidence in patients and others alike.

If you are interested in attending any of my courses at The Christie School of Oncology, Leeds or London call 0161 918 2445 or email education.events@christie.nhs.uk