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Breast Cancer Survivorship

Each year over 20,000 Canadian women are diagnosed with breast cancer. With the improvements to diagnoses and treatments, survival rates have now exceeded 85%. Reduced mortality from breast cancer and prolonged life expectancy indicate that survivorship issues will affect a significant  proportion of the population. The prevalence of arm morbidity—pain, lymphedema, and limited range of motion (ROM)—is high  among this population and all forms of arm morbidity can have a significant impact on  aspects of survivors’ lives, such as work, leisure, and relationships. This project is motivated by the need to improve rehabilitation programs delivered at crucial times in breast cancer survivors’ recovery We use theatrical performances to disseminate results from our national study on the psychosocial effects of arm morbidity.

The purpose of the project is to educate health care professionals and other survivors on the psycho-social impacts of untreated arm disability using a form of theatre known as ethnodrama. The project was undertaken by an interdisciplinary team of psychologist Linda McMullen, oncologist Shahid Ahmed, massage therapist Pam Fichtner, and physio-therapist Janice Block. Working with members of the UofS Drama department (Jamison & Haig-Bartley), the team produced a theatrical script from two day-long workshops with survivors and informed by the arm disability study. The purpose of the ethnodrama performances is to increase knowledge and improve screening and referral practices of nurses, physicians, and other health care providers.

There have been 12 live performances of the ethnodrama across Canada, including 4 French performances in Saskatoon, Regina, Ottawa, and Montreal. While DVDs were produced from both the French and English performances, we have worked to make our research more accessible by creating a YouTube channel. The performances, along with interviews with research participants, has also been disseminated more broadly via the YouTube channel:

Living With Lymphedema - Part 1

Living with Lymphedema - Part 2

In the first two months of being launched, the ethnodrama videos were viewed over 300 times, which speaks to their ability to reach a wide range of audiences. Combined, the videos have been viewed over 1,000 times. DVDs of both French and English ethnodrama has been distributed to professional medical and nursing, and allied health associations and colleges of medicine, nursing, massage therapy, and physical therapy to build clinical capacity for practitioners. The videos have also been sent to over 50 breast cancer support groups across the country.


Elizabeth Quinlan (Co-PI) & Roanne Thomas-MacLean (Co-PI). Co-Investigators: L. McMullen, P. Fichtner, J. Block, Shahid Ahmed. Extending the Reach: Ethnodrama, Knowledge Translation, and Breast Cancer Survivorship. $96,000, 2012.– 2014, Canadian Institutes for Health Research Knowledge Synthesis Grant.

Elizabeth Quinlan (Co-PI) & Roanne Thomas-MacLean (Co-PI). Co-Investigators: Linda McMullen, Linda Mickalishen, Janice Block, David Popkin, New Directions in Knowledge Translation for Breast Cancer Survivorship, $187,500, Jan 2010 – Jan 2012, Regional Partnerships Program (RPP): Saskatchewan (CIHR).

Community Partners

Breast Cancer Action Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Breast Cancer Network: Lymphedema Association of Saskatchewan


Regression; Latent Growth Curve Modeling; Ethnodrama

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