RRU researcher receives $250K to transform cancer care for young people
Young people with cancer, and those who care for them, will be co-researchers on this project, designing and sharing a multi-sensory immersive theatre experience that reflects the felt sense of cancer.
- Dr. Cheryl Heykoop
Each year in Canada, 8,300 young people aged 15 to 39 are diagnosed with cancer. Such a diagnosis almost always coincides with major life transitions such as completing post-secondary education, building a career, establishing partnerships, or starting families.
These transitions make it extra challenging for young adults to navigate cancer and seek the distinct care and support they require. Survival rates for young adults with cancer have not improved like those for children and older adults. Only 0.4% of research funding in Canada is dedicated to young adult cancer, and there is limited care appropriate to their life stage.
But a new participatory research project aims to address these challenges by bringing together young adults with lived experience of cancer with the disciplines of health sciences and the performing arts.
Dr. Cheryl Heykoop, assoc. prof., program head for the MA in Leadership at Royal Roads, and Michael Smith Health Research BC Scholar, has been awarded a $250,000 New Frontiers in Research Fund grant to lead a creative participatory research project in immersive theatre aimed at transforming cancer care for adolescents and young adults. BC Cancer and the University of Leeds are partners on this award.
“Young people with cancer, and those who care for them, will be co-researchers on this project designing and sharing a multi-sensory immersive theatre experience that reflects the felt sense of cancer,” says Heykoop. “By exploring and sharing these challenges through such an impactful means, we will facilitate tangible opportunities to effect systemic change in young adult cancer care — change that is grounded in lived experience.”
Heykoop’s research program, the Anew Research Collaborative, is based at Royal Roads and dedicated to reshaping cancer care for all young adults in Canada. The program, also funded by the Vancouver Foundation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, integrates creative and participatory research to build understanding and inspire change.
Current initiatives will contribute significantly to the foundation of the immersive theatre experience:
- A creative workshop series with young adults exploring and applying arts-based methods to share their cancer care experiences
- An applied theatre series where young adults develop videos sharing distinct cancer care challenges of young adults
- A research project working with racialized young adults to understand and improve cancer care for racialized young adults
For more information, email Anew.
“Transforming Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer through Immersive Performance” is supported in part by funding from the Government of Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF).