the United States and other developed countries. In 2008, it was estimated that the number of cancer survivors in the United States was 12.4 million and the prevalence of those living with cancer grows by more than a million each year. Many individuals diagnosed with cancer today will live with the disease for decades after diagnosis. As a result, many forms of cancer are now joining the ranks of other chronic diseases. These advances raise, nonetheless, important issues of what life “after cancer” is like for individuals and their families and how to help them lead optimal lives following a diagnosis.
This research program is dedicated to better understanding the cancer experience of individuals and families, from diagnosis to long-term survivorship, and also including knowledge and attitudes of the broader community. Foci of our current research program include but are not limited to issues such as sexuality, psychological and identity changes, impact of cancer on caregivers/families, resilience and psychological growth, late health effects, quality of life, and post-diagnosis health behaviors.
Training and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students is also a critical part of our program and obligation to the field. We currently have several undergraduate students from across the University (HDFS, Psychology, Molecular and Cell Biology, Nursing) enrolled in our cancer survivorship research practica. Students receive hands-on experience in different phases of research, including literature reviews, study design and implementation, questionnaire development, statistical analyses, and dissemination, such as manuscript preparation and conference presentations. Our graduate students serve critical roles in our research, ranging from managing projects to supervising undergraduates and engaging in data collection, analysis and write up of results for presentations and publications. Both undergraduate and graduate students are co-authors on many of our recent publications.
Undergraduate students Chelsea Bleckwehl (left) and Alyssa Loutsion (right) presenting at the Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Exhibit at UCONN