The University of Georgia
Professor of social work creates website for cancer survivors

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Professor of social work creates website for cancer survivors

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March 19, 2009

At a young age, School of Social Work assistant professor Kimberly Clay developed an interest in the care and treatment of cancer patients and their families.

Unfortunately, Clay's interest was the result of being one of those family members.

As a high school student, Clay lost a sibling to Wilm's tumor, a rare kidney cancer that primarily affects children.

"He was only with our family seven years," said Clay, "yet he made such a significant impact on my life and my career decisions."

During graduate school Clay decided to focus her studies on cancer prevention and control. She received the Cancer Prevention and Control Training Fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she conducted her first research project in cancer. With funding from a National Cancer Institute-sponsored research supplement, Clay extended her research interests to include survivorship during her postdoctoral fellowship at the UAB Minority Health & Research Center. This work led to Clay's current program of research focused on improving outcomes, survivorship and symptom control for cancer survivors.

Last year, the Georgia Department of Human Resources' Comprehensive Cancer Control Program contracted with the University of Georgia, under the leadership of Clay, to conduct two cancer survivorship research projects, resulting in the recently launched Web site, SurvivorIAm.com.

The new Web site represents a major advance in the ability of cancer survivors and health care providers to obtain valuable information about the survivorship experience. The Survivor I Am Web site features a virtual training for providers with highlights from the Institute of Medicine report, From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition, which concluded that cancer survivorship is a distinct phase of the cancer trajectory and that a strategy is needed for the ongoing clinical care of cancer survivors. The site also features extensive content for survivors and families/caregivers, including survivor stories, tips and helpful resources and links.

The Survivor I Am campaign is a community-based participatory research project targeting cancer survivors, family members, formal and informal caregivers, and health care providers to educate and empower a growing population of cancer survivors in the United States, and in Georgia. The intent of the Survivor I Am Web site is to optimize communication and coordination of cancer survivorship care in Georgia.

For Clay, the Web site and campaign are part of her larger program of research focused on behavioral and psychosocial interventions to improve cancer outcomes, survivorship and symptom control for older adult cancer survivors.

"A major focus of my work is cancer health disparities," Clay said. "The underlying goal of Survivor I Am is reducing the unequal burden of cancer through science, training and community outreach. This Web site is a cornerstone of our effort to help cancer survivors learn more about their survivorship journey while also educating health care providers on ways to better deliver quality survivorship care."