A breast cancer diagnosis is often accompanied by a series of challenges including changes to the family dynamics, complications in the workplace and poor or non-existent social interactions, that place the diagnosed person in a condition of greater vulnerability, affecting their self-esteem and general self-perception. When breast cancer metastasizes, these challenges increase, generating even more stress and crises. In Costa Rica, the management and care of breast cancer are not directed specifically to the population in advanced stages or with confirmed metastasis. In addition, there is currently no record to distinguish the exact number of metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients treated from the total number of breast cancer diagnosed cases per hospital, nor a team of actors that can directly address the challenges that these women face.
Tour Rosa Association is a non-governmental non-profit organization that was founded in 2014. It is mostly run by women cancer survivors and is focused on education of the general population about early detection of breast cancer, and the accompaniment of women diagnosed with MBC, aiming to improve their quality of life and defending their rights. It has been observed in Costa Rica that approximately one out of every 10 breast cancer patients develop metastases which bring several specific implications and challenges for those affected.
The project "Más Vida" aims not only to increase education and social awareness about the challenges that women with MBC face, but also to build a team that can follow up on their specific care and treatment needs, offering spaces for peer interaction and providing psychosocial support.
"With this SPARC grant we will create a community of women with metastatic breast cancer and will educate them and will provide emotional and psychological support through support groups, music and art therapy and yoga."
The project will involve the creation of a “Community of Women” support group that will be designed as a space without censorship to bring together women with MBC, in which they can talk openly about their experiences and feelings. The group will allow them to exchange ideas and participate in different alternative therapy sessions.
An MBC training program will be developed, including information about the psychosocial and more general implications of MBC for the patient and their closest social circle. In addition, a coordinated psychological support service will be provided for MBC patients and their families, with the aim of addressing the specific challenges that affect women at a psychological level as a result of the disease.
Meetings, participatory workshops, individual and family psychological sessions will be organised promoted through digital media and social networks, in addition to the implementation of alternative therapies.
The oncology services of three hospitals will be involved in the project, in addition to three NGOs that work with them, therefore covering a broad section of the Costa Rica’s health services network and impacting women and training volunteers from different areas.
(Information from the project description and context is compiled from the grant application)