Call For Volunteers in Breast Cancer Study

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • If you’re a mom, you know that your feelings can influence the family dynamic in a big way. “Uh oh, watch out, Mom’s in a bad mood,” you might hear one of the kids whisper, as you slam around the kitchen in the morning, frazzled and sleep-deprived after a restless night of tossing and turning. And when you’re happy, it’s pretty likely the kids–young kids, that is–will be smiling right along with you.

    Thus it’s no surprise that a recent study involving mothers with breast cancer, and their children, aged 8 to 12, reveals a link between depressed moms and anxious children. The data reveals that the children of moms who fall into depression during breast cancer treatment are more concerned about their mom’s illness, and more anxious about the family in general, than the kids of moms who aren’t depressed.
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    “It would be expected for children to worry about their mothers in the face of a difficult illness. It’s somewhat surprising, however, that children’s anxieties extended to concerns about the entire family,” noted Beth Grabiak, M.S.N., C.R.N.P. of the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, who led data analysis of the study. “Well-intentioned parents may hesitate to talk openly about the disease’s emotional impact in an effort to protect their children, who in turn may attempt to hide their concern... Yet, the child’s anxieties never disappear. They often are manifested in other ways, such as withdrawn behavior,” said Grabiak.

    Bottom line? If you’re depressed, you’re not suffering alone. The kids are probably feeling the pain of your depression as well. Don’t suffer in silence; silence sometimes speaks louder than words, particularly among those to whom we’re closest, our family. Get treatment; when you feel better, everyone feels better.

    * * *

    “Woman by woman… sister by sister… We can make a difference!” Thus says an informational brochure on the Sister Study, a breast cancer research project being conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a division of the National Institutes of Health. The study is currently recruiting volunteers at sisterstudy.org.

    “The Sister Study is one of the first long-term studies to help us understand how women's genes and the things in their environment–homes, workplaces, and communities–influence risk of breast cancer. It is the first to collect such extensive and detailed information about environmental exposures. Women from different generations and from various racial and ethnic groups and geographic regions of the U.S. and Puerto Rico will take part in the study. Sister Study results can then be used to help as many women as possible,” says the study’s Web site, which explains how participants will be involved.

    If you have a blood sister, living or deceased, who had breast cancer; if you’re between the ages of 35 and 74, and haven’t had cancer yourself; and if you live in the U.S. or Puerto Rico, you’re eligible to take part in this study. If you’re a breast cancer survivor reading this, and you have a sister, pass the information along. So many of our sisters want to DO something besides sit around and feel sorry for us. This study will no doubt be a very effective vehicle in the fight against breast cancer.
  • Me and my sister, Meagan - college kids!
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Published On: April 02, 2007