African-American women struggle to create a “new normal” after breast cancer diagnosis and treatment because they often do not get adequate resources to support their mental and emotional health, a study suggests. These findings were presented in a poster at JADPRO Live 2022, the annual APSHO meeting.

Questions about how African-American women who survive breast cancer navigate psychosocial factors remain unanswered, according to study author Virginia Leach, a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Leach conducted this study to answer the question, “How do African-American women breast cancer survivors create a new normal post-breast cancer while figuring out their own identity?”


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The study included 20 African-American women breast cancer survivors in the United States. The 20 women were recruited to participate through the Tigerlily Foundation, a non-profit breast cancer advocacy organization.

Participants were asked to complete a pre-interview questionnaire to collect demographic information and to sit for 1 interview via Zoom. Participants were compensated for their time.

The results showed that breast cancer had a negative impact on the participants’ mental and emotional health, causing cancer-related post-traumatic stress. The breast cancer survivors also reported isolation from family and friends as well as physical side effects such as osteoporosis and lymphedema.

“Releasing African-American women from their cancer care team without resources for their mental and physical health does not help them sustain a high quality of life,” Leach said in an audio recording accompanying her poster.

“Participants often brought up that they had a good care team and, at times, felt heard by their medical providers but felt a loss or separation once they were released from their cancer care. African-American women breast cancer survivors need professional therapists or oncology social workers to guide them throughout their breast cancer journey.”

Disclosures: Leach did not report any conflicts of interest.

Reference

Leach V. The psycho-social factors impacting African American (AA) women breast cancer survivors. Poster presented at: JADPRO Live 2022; October 20-23, 2022; Aurora, CO. Abstract JL1015P.