Healing the cracks in care
As we've discussed on this community, creative activities such as journaling or art, can help cancer patients and caregivers express their experiences and relieve tension. One Society-funded study is looking at how these activities can help improve the well-being of a specific group of cancer patients and make their experiences more visible.
A photograph of a crack that goes down into an elevator shaft was taken by Sandra, a First Nations cancer survivor, to convey her experience of feeling invisible and falling into the cracks in the health care system. Many First Nations women who survive cancer face the challenges of socioeconomic inequality, isolation and cultural insensitivity to traditional beliefs in healing.
With a Quality of Life Grant of the Canadian Cancer Society in memory of Edna Goebel, Dr Roanne Thomas and her research team are building on a pilot study documenting the experiences of women like Sandra. Their national study will evaluate whether the process of photography, interviews and journaling helps to enhance well-being for First Nations, Inuit and Métis women with cancer. The team will also look at how making participants' experiences visible can be empowering and supportive. The research is being completed in partnership with Saint Elizabeth Health Care, a home and community-based health care organization with links to over 350 First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada.
"This study gives women from diverse, marginalized communities an opportunity to document their experiences in an expressive and meaningful way, and share those experiences with other cancer survivors and health professionals," says Dr Thomas. "We've seen incredible strength and creativity in these women."
The findings and a resulting video will be used to increase awareness and improve understanding about the women's experiences among their communities and health professionals. "Our goal is to improve knowledge of cancer from the perspectives of women in diverse Canadian communities, in order to provide a strong foundation for culturally responsive practices, programs and policies," says Dr Thomas.
We're currently discussing various ways of relieving tension through a discussion on this community, please join in on the discussion! We would also love to hear how you may benefit from such research in the comments below.