Non-Hispanic white women in Florida experience the highest rates of breast cancer but are more likely to be diagnosed with localized breast cancer that has the highest chance of effective treatment. Hispanic Black women are more often diagnosed at a later stage, contributing to a higher mortality rate than other populations.
Economic Backbone: Breast Cancer
The impact of breast cancer can often go beyond the medical. It can also impact a breast cancer survivor’s relationship with a romantic partner, something that has been found to be more acute among Latino couples.
Compared to non-Latino couples, for example, Latino couples dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis often experience a worse quality of life, more distress due to strained spousal and family relationships, and worse physical and mental health, according to Dinorah “Dina” Martinez Tyson, an associate professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health.
To research this issue further — and to help couples strengthen relationships that have been affected by a cancer diagnosis — USF researchers are seeking Latina breast cancer survivors and their partners to participate in a study looking into how breast cancer has affected them.
“Our goal is to develop a program for Latina breast cancer survivors and their partners that is culturally meaningful, relevant and responds to the needs and concerns of both the survivor and their partner that could be available across Florida and even the nation,” Tyson says.
Right now, Tyson adds, “there are no programs available in Spanish for Latinas diagnosed with cancer, or for their partners, that specifically address the impact of cancer on couples’ relationships.”
The ongoing work, called Juntos Después del Cáncer — or Together After Cancer — entails couples spending about one hour each week for up to eight weeks speaking and working with researchers and relationship coaches online. So far, more than 20 couples have signed up. Tyson says the goal is enrolling 240 couples from across the state.
“It can be done from the comfort of your home or anywhere you have an internet connection,” she says. “Participants will also have up to five, 20-minute calls with a coach to help you apply what you’ve learned to your own relationship. Coaches are available for daytime, evening, and weekend calls.”
Tyson, the study’s principal investigator, says the project includes researchers and relationship coaches from across the state, including from Moffitt Cancer Center, the University of Central Florida, the University of Miami and UM’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, AdventHealth Orlando and Nova Southeastern University.
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