Assistant Professor, Department of Family Studies & Community Development
With a recent publication in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, family studies professor Amanda Ginter is making strides in her research on cancer survivorship, an area she has worked in for the past nine years.
Ginter's article entitled "Social Support for Breast Cancer Patients without Partners" describes the experiences of single women as they seek and utilize social support during their diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
"Cancer survivorship is a growing area of research in Family Science," Ginter says. "More people are surviving cancer, and for longer periods of time."
Ginter first realized she wanted to conduct research with breast cancer in her own career when, as a research assistant, she helped a professor conduct qualitative research in this area during her master's program. Now, in addition to her breast cancer research, Ginter teaches Family Theories, as well as both undergraduate and graduate level Research Methods classes for students in the Department of Family Studies and Community Development.
Ginter is particularly passionate about the ways that family scientists can learn about and support patients and families affected by cancer. "Individuals that have completed treatment for cancer may have difficulty with physical and emotional reactions to treatment, communicating their needs to family members and friends, and figuring out the 'what next,'" Ginter explains. "Additionally, [family members] themselves are often reeling from the shock of a loved one's diagnosis."
From her research, Ginter found that participants personally found it challenging to establish boundaries with their well-meaning relatives and friends. They also expressed a need for age-relevant and cancer stage-specific breast cancer support groups.
Healthcare professionals can also gain practical applications from Ginter's research. "It's crucial that physicians make tailored recommendations to their patients. There is no 'one size fits all' breast cancer support group," Ginter emphasizes. "Rather, physicians should consider [the patient's] age and current stage of breast cancer before suggesting a particular group."
Ginter's findings are exciting and helpful to the field of family science, but her passion drives her onward. Ginter now continues to tackle the tough questions in her newest research endeavor with young women diagnosed with metastatic, or stage IV, breast cancer. Ginter says, "I'm interested in studying what it is like to live with cancer indefinitely."