Thriving After Cancer Team

Thriving After Cancer Team

Identifying and implementing effective and scalable strategies to support cancer survivors and their partners/families across the cancer continuum.

Many cancer patients will be exposed to treatment that can result in long-term consequences to their reproductive and sexual health. Left unaddressed, these can adversely affect partner relationships and quality of life well after treatment ends.

Life does not return to "normal" when cancer treatment ends. Younger survivors, compared to older survivors, have the hardest time adjusting to life after cancer, experiencing significantly more unsupportive responses from family and friends, higher depressive symptoms, higher levels of avoidant coping, and more negative appraisal of the illness. LGBTQ+ survivors experience disproportionate hardship across the cancer continuum because of discrimination and chronic stress. They have significant unmet psychological and sexual health needs, and experience insufficient social support and gaps in care across the cancer continuum. Cancer has also been characterized as a “we disease”, where partnered survivors navigate these challenges as a couple and both partners need access to services and support.

Our current research aims to fill the gap in supportive care for young cancer survivors, couples struggling with reproductive and sexual health concerns, and LGBTQ+ survivors and their partners/support networks. Our long-term goal is to identify and implement effective and scalable strategies to support cancer survivors and those who care for them across the cancer continuum.

Currently recruiting participants

We are currently recruiting participants for the following.

Opening the Conversation

A study for reproductive-aged cancer survivors and their partners

Through our research with young adult cancer survivors and their partners, we have learned that many couples encounter significant challenges that continue for years after cancer treatment ends. Yet, there are surprisingly few resources available to help them cope. We are testing two programs to support young couples’ relationships after cancer.

We invite couples with any sexual orientation or gender identity to participate.

Visit Opening the Conversation to find out more.

Thriving Together

There is emerging evidence of a higher cancer burden and elevated mortality for transgender and gender diverse, compared to cisgender, cancer survivors. Effective cancer survivorship care to minimize long-term and late effects of cancer is essential for all survivors, regardless of gender identity. However, there is very limited research on the needs of transgender and gender diverse individuals who have survived cancer nor their support networks.

In the first phase of this study, we explored transgender and gender diverse cancer survivors’ experiences navigating health systems and health care and explored possible strategies to support them. We are currently analyzing these data and will share results when available.

For our next phase of research, we seek to learn more about participants’ experiences with and preferences for reporting gender identity in health care and research settings. This work is being done in collaboration with the Healthy Oregon Project.

Visit Thriving Together Study to find out more.

Project Summaries

Mindful After Cancer

Many people experience sexual concerns after breast and gynecologic cancer and few resources are available to support them. We developed and tested a mindfulness-based program to help fill this gap.

Read more about our research