Five-year survival in women undergoing treatment for early-stage breast cancer is greater than 90 percent. Upon completion of medical intervention, survivors frequently experience ongoing treatment effects, including weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, and physical limitations. In this Tier II project, we will collaborate with (1) women who have undergone breast cancer treatment, (2) experts from oncology and supportive therapies, (3) the community, and (4) national cancer survivorship stakeholder organizations. The partnership outcome would be: identification of post-treatment interventions, from the optimal setting, for comparative effectiveness research aimed at mitigating treatment effects and improving quality of life.
During a post-treatment focus group, breast cancer survivors identified opportunity for improved support, including recommendations and education about health promotion programs that incorporate nutrition, exercise, and mind–body practices. In addition, this group recognized the importance of access, for the patient and also the caregivers and family of the cancer survivor; for example, one survivor said, “I eat great at work, but when I get home, my husband doesn’t understand how important this is for my recovery.”
Commonly, primary treatment and education are provided at a hospital or medical center, which is paid by health insurance. Post-treatment, cancer survivors return to their home and work communities and may have time constraints or limited access to financial resources. Breast cancer survivors identified the need for community-based health and wellness programs and services that are readily accessible and affordable. “This [diagnosis] is something you live with forever; it is always in the back of your mind. I don’t want to just survive, I want to thrive.”