The Psychology of Cancer at Hunter College Fall 19

It was a pleasure to teach a seminar in the Department of Psychology at Hunter College- College University of New York- in Fall 2019!

The course- Psychology of Cancer- explored the intersectionality of various psychological phenomena and cancer outcomes. To facilitate our objective interpretation and evaluation of the research in this area, scheduled class time was dedicated to guided self-reflection exercises.

One exercise involved observing the representation of pain, strife, and illness in modern art. Most students found solace within the works displayed at The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art such as Kent Mokman’s “Resurgence of the People” pictured above.

Throughout the semester we discussed how risk perceptions, preventive behaviors, and screening decisions impact cancer diagnosis, the psychological distress that accompanies cancer treatment, and cancer survivorship issues including fear of recurrence, fertility, grief, and end of life care.

I’m grateful to the students, faculty, and staff for warmly welcoming me into this historic institution. Contributing to the heir of scholarship at Hunter was one of the highlights of my year. Thanks to Drs. Michael Hoyt, Jamie Ostroff, Valerie Khait, and Tracey Revenson for support.

Society of Behavioral Medicine Inaugural Physical Activity SIG Newsletter

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Excerpt from the
 Society of Behavioral Medicine Physical Activity SIG Inaugural Newsletter

This year, Society of Behavioral Medicine‘s Physical Activity Special Interest Group published its Inaugural Fall Newsletter showcasing the research of its members. I discuss a manuscript in preparation focused on threat perceptions, worry, and exercise. The manuscript is being prepared using an archival data set- a national probability sample (R01 CA197351). The study explores relationships between threat perceptions (perceived susceptibility and severity of developing diabetes and colon cancer), worry, and exercise in U.S. adults. The results of this investigation will further our understanding of the relationships between attitudes, worry about illnesses, and exercise in U.S. adults.

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Narrative Leaders at Society of Behavioral Medicine

A special congratulations is due to along-time friend and colleague, Alycia Boutte, for receiving the 2019 Women's Health SIG SBM Presentation Award for her outstanding research examining food density and diet quality among pregnant women in South Carolina. Congratulations Alycia!
Chloé M. Martin (right) and Alycia Boutte (left)- Woman’s Health Special Interest Group SBM Presentation Winner

The Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting brought together experts who are leading the narrative in key areas of behavioral medicine including cancer prevention and control, nutrition and weight management, women’s health, and health disparities. It was great to be one of the behavioral scientists who are courageously tacking some of our country’s most harmful illnesses through research, training, and community outreach. During Friday night’s poster session, I presented my work on social constraints, emotional intelligence, and fear of recurrence in African-American breast cancer survivors. The poster showed that African-American breast cancer survivors who experience rejection from family and friends when attempting to disclose their cancer-related emotions tend to experience greater levels of fear of recurrence- even when they have the tendency to be cognizant of their emotions. The results of the study have implications for clinicians who work with African-American breast cancer survivors- receiving supportive emotional support from family members and friends is an important part of  a survivors’ ability to cognitively process the trauma of breast cancer. When left lingering cancer-related emotions, African-American breast cancer survivors could suffer from greater concerns, worries, and fears about the possibility of having a recurrence.