Kathleen Tuitt’s wellness revolution
IN May 2007, Kathleen Tuitt was diagnosed with breast cancer. During her recovery, she began doing research to find out how cancer patients survive beyond five years. During the process she learnt a lot about health and wellness.
Tuitt soon became aware of the health dilemma being faced in the Caribbean as it relates to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) — diabetes, heart disease, cancer and respiratory disease — that too many persons were dying from. She knew these deaths could have been prevented.
And so today, even while Caribbean governments are finding ways to improve the health of the Caribbean people, Tuitt is finding her own way to reduce death from NCDs in the Caribbean.
She believes it has to start with an individual decision.
“If I as an individual do not decide to take responsibility and decide to live a healthy life, not much will happen,” Tuitt told Al l Woman. “All of us know someone who has diabetes, cancer, heart disease or high blood pressure. Many of us know someone who has died from one of these conditions. Many are trying to change their ways and live a more healthy life and I have met a lot of persons who do not want to change what they eat and how they live.”
She said while some do not want to hear or change their eating habits, it has been proven that if persons live a mindful life and follow the healthy recommendations they can avoid over 80 per cent of diabetes and heart disease and over 40 per cent of cancers.
Tuitt, who is from Montserrat, has lived and worked in several Caribbean islands as well as the United States. She holds a degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of the West Indies and has over 20 years of experience in business development, logistics management, and project implementation in the Caribbean and the United States.
Using her vast experience in marketing, investment promotion and conference planning, Tuitt said she has worked extensively in nearly every major city in North America and the Caribbean.
“I would like for the people of the Caribbean to become the CEOs and comptrollers of their health and wellness,” she stated. “Being in good physical health is great, but there is more to living a happy life than that. We need to be healthy in mind body and soul. We have to live a balanced life, treating the whole person. We need the churches, insurance companies, corporations, the government and all the individuals involved.”
In her quest for a healthy change, Tuitt has built a website called Our Healthy and Happy Caribbean..
“I have had a lot of positive comments and feedback about it,” she said. “I want the site to evolve to a place where we can come and ask questions, get information from experts and we can discuss health and wellness issues. We will also move on to having workshops and conferences all over the Caribbean.”
Her plan is to reach persons through the website, radio, workshops and conferences.
Tuitt said her first plan of action is to promote what she calls Know Your Numbers.
“It is well known that there are five numbers everyone should know about their own bodies for great health,” she explained. “They are blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, waist circumference and body mass index. You have to make sure they are all within the normal range. This is not hard to do. It is a simple, proactive move we can all make to find out and manage the state of our health,” she said.
“I would like the individual, when they go to their doctor, to be aware of the exact number of their blood pressure, their weight, their cholesterol, etc. I do not want them to ever come back home and announce to their families that the doctor or nurse said their pressure or sugar was a “little high”. Everyone should know the importance of knowing their medical results and be able to know if that number was within the normal range,” she said.
For the last 12 years, Tuitt has played a key role in marketing Baptist Health internationally, one of the largest not-for-profit health systems in South Florida.
She has also negotiated health care contracts with regional governments, corporations, and civic organisations.
“We cannot just be afraid of these diseases by themselves. They are all important but if we live a mindful, balanced life, we can live a healthy and happy life and avoid the effects of these NCDs,” Tuitt said.