South Australian researchers Dr Katia Ferrar and Dr Emma Kemp from Flinders University hope that their research will help to find better ways to support people impacted by cancer, at every stage of their cancer experience.
A partnership between Flinders Foundation, Cancer Council SA and Flinders University has invested over $1 million into two exciting new cancer research fellowships awarded to Dr Ferrar and Dr Kemp which will see them dedicate the next three years working to improve the quality of life, and decrease distress, of people who are living with, or after, cancer.
Over the next three years, Dr Kemp’s research will aim to explore the psychological impacts of cancer on patients and carers to find better ways to support them to navigate this difficult time in their lives, by providing the right resources at the right time to support people throughout their cancer journey.
“Many people seem to experience the two extremes of either not finding resources or being overwhelmed with resources – neither of these provide the kind of support they need,” Dr Kemp says.
“It’s about ensuring people have what they need to live a psychologically and physically well lifestyle, after treatment or if treatment is ongoing.”
“This is a massive opportunity for me to take some significant strides in better supporting people who have received a diagnosis of cancer, and their loved ones.”
“As a team, we can raise some really exciting programs of research, looking at the psychological drivers behind people’s engagement in health behaviours and health behaviour impacts on psychological wellness.”
– Dr Kemp.
Dr Ferrar’s research will investigate how physical activity can help improve the lives of people affected by cancer, as well as looking at the benefits of a variety of other wellness therapies.
Expressing her gratitude to the generous supporters of both Flinders Foundation and Cancer Council SA for the funding which makes her research possible, Dr Ferrar is excited by the opportunity to use her research skills to implement real world service delivery.
“There is extensive evidence showing the importance of exercise in cancer wellness,”
“This really demonstrates the insight of both organisations in acknowledging the importance of something quite distinct from the medical aspects of oncology research.”
“It’s our job to demonstrate the impact of our research and the benefit to cancer survivors so we can generate momentum to continue the important work in these areas.”
– Dr Ferrar
The fellowship positions will be based at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, working under the direction of Professor Bogda Koczwara who established one of the first cancer survivorship programs in Australia and has contributed to key advances in the field including survivorship epidemiology, self-management support, and the use of patient reported outcomes in cancer.
“While we strive to eradicate the burden of cancer, our focus must remain on the person affected by cancer and their family. And this focus must extend beyond just the acute cancer treatment to support long term health and wellbeing,” says Professor Koczwara.
“These two new positions are fundamental to our vision of holistic, patient centred cancer care that is truly integrated with all our cancer control efforts.”
The Fellows will work collaboratively with teams at Cancer Council SA and Flinders University to develop and conduct research that aims to assess and address the needs of cancer survivors to enhance their wellbeing, reduce symptom burden and improve health outcomes.
They will also engage with the team at the Flinders Cancer Wellness Centre, enabling research translation and allowing for patients and community perspectives to inform their research priorities.
Flinders Foundation Executive Director Ross Verschoor says this is a great opportunity to achieve real life outcomes for people living with or after cancer.
“From individual donations, to support from businesses and fundraisers in the community, it’s been overwhelming to see the lengths Flinders Foundation’s supporters have gone to help provide more support for those affected by cancer,” he says.
“It’s wonderful that we’ve been able to come together to make these positions a reality.
“Generous Flinders Foundation supporters of the Fellowship positions include the Dry July Foundation, Pink Yellow Blue Ball attendees and individual donors supporting cancer research.”