Saturday, 4 February 2017

Celebrating Unity, Embracing Diversity on World Cancer Day 2017 ~ Naz

Celebrating Unity, Embracing Diversity

The Centre for Building Resilience in Breast Cancer is almost 15 months old. Born in October 2015, we are proud to be celebrating our second World Cancer Day. Last year, on this day, we launched our blog, Panning for Gold, showcasing the colourful experiences of trauma and resilience of numerous women living with breast cancer and its effects; the roller coasters of joy and sadness, of elation and despair, of uncertainty and living with fear, of learning to be courageous and flexible.

Only 15 months old, the centre is rapidly expanding with over 2000 followers already. Our private psycho-educational support group, inclusive of just under 600 members, expands on a daily basis.
Our aims are translational and educational: to understand the complex roots of anxiety and depressive vulnerability in breast cancer and promote resilience using newly developed scientific research.

As a cognitive and affective neuroscientist working on emotional vulnerability and resilience for nearly 20 years, and having suffered breast cancer myself, I remain more determined than ever to bring new insights into the emotional and psychological needs of women living with breast cancer and its effects, promoting mental well-being and psychological flexibility in a population most need of being empowered through resilience.

Up to 80% of women with a breast cancer diagnosis continue to experience post traumatic stress symptoms for years post diagnosis, with depression and anxiety impacting health and well-being significantly. The statistics show that around 60,000 women are diagnosed yearly with breast cancer in the UK alone, with increasing rates in younger women noted and around 30% of us go on to develop secondary breast cancer. Addressing the unique needs of women with breast cancer is a both an individual and societal necessity.

What is the unique feature of the centre?
At its forefront, our aim is that the centre will unite the many diversities and segregations seen in breast cancer research and practice. We see primary and secondary breast cancer, not as separate entities, but on a continuum where the understanding of both the common and specialised needs of each can inform the other. Secondary breast cancer receives little attention for funding, but these women continue to live rich and fruitful lives, contributing to their families and society and it is imperative that their psychological needs are met and their voices heard. My aim is that the centre provides a public platform to educate through research the ways by which we can manage the cancer-related emotional vulnerability that we take forward with us, and practice resilience, given our limitations.

Our educational support group provides a unique and integrative platform for women of all ages and at all stages of the continuum. Our Sunday discussions are guided, referring to research and theory, mixed with the sharing of emotions and experiences that are both common and unique sensitivities.

Promoting resilience is at the forefront of our mission. Research shows that psychological flexibility towards resilience can be achieved through talking about and embracing our anxieties, fears and sadness. Attending to the ‘negative’ can facilitate our experiences of ‘positive’. We research the ways by which we can manage our fears and worries, and not simply hide away from them. Our women promote the practice of gratitude, grit and solidarity.

Today, we are about holding hands, embracing our diversity and celebrating our unity.

Thank you to all our amazing members and followers for your support.

Nazanin Derakshan

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