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About the Program

This is a self-guided psychoeducational program designed for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

The program incorporates the provision of information and use of supportive psycho-oncology techniques shared by psychology, oncology, oncology nursing and cognitive behavioral therapy (e.g., visualization, distraction, cognitive reframing, and provision of support/validation and information to facilitate problem solving) with the intent of helping reduce distress, and support healthy adjustment and coping strategies used by women in response to breast cancer diagnosis and its related experiences.

The theoretical basis for the program is a blended model of the Appraisal & Coping Process (Folkman & Greer, 2000) and cognitive theories of adjustment to major life stressors (Creamer, Burgess, Pattison, 1992; Lepore, 2001; Lepore & Helgeson, 1998); as well as the assumption that cognitions guide emotions and behaviors while all are influenced by social factors and the environment in a continuous system (Dobson, 2010; Hays & Iwamasa, 2006).

Selection of the major topic areas of the program was guided by the grounded theory of Acclimating to Breast Cancer (Lally, 2010; Lally et al., 2012) which explains the initial thought processes and behaviors of women working to maintain post-diagnosis self-integrity. This grounded theory was initially developed through in-depth interviews with 18 women and further modified with the addition of 26 interviews with women all newly diagnosed and awaiting their primary breast cancer surgery as well as within 30 days after surgery. Results from these studies are noted throughout the program. The remaining psychoeducational content is supported by current evidence on stress, coping, support and psychological adjustment to cancer (see Bibliography) and expert review (see list of Program Contributors below).

About the Primary Author

Robin M. Lally, PhD, MS, RN, BA, AOCN, is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at the University at Buffalo School of Nursing, The State University of New York and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Dr. Lally earned her PhD in nursing with an emphasis in oncology from the University of Minnesota, School of Nursing in 2006. She also holds Bachelors (1991) and Masters (1999) degrees in nursing as well as a B.A. in human physiology (1987) from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Lally has been certified as an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation since 2000. She practiced as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) in breast oncology for 8 years before beginning her academic career. As a CNS, Dr. Lally was instrumental in collaborating on the development of and participation in a program to provide individualized cancer information, psychosocial support, advocacy, and care coordination to women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Dr. Lally is a member of the Oncology Nursing Society, the American Psychosocial Oncology Society, and the American Association for Cancer Education and has authored or co-authored nearly 20 published, peer-reviewed research articles.

Program Contributors

Research Team

Jean K. Brown, RN, PhD, FAAN, Former Dean and Professor Emeritus, University at Buffalo School of Nursing

Karen Meneses PhD, RN, FAAN, Associate Dean for Research and Professor, University of Alabama Birmingham School of Nursing

Deborah O. Erwin, PhD, Director of Cancer Health Disparities Research and Distinguished Member of Cancer Prevention & Population Sciences, Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Davina Porock, PhD, Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship & Professor, University at Buffalo School of Nursing

Vicki S. Helgeson, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University

Patrick McNees, PhD, FAAN, Professor and Associate Dean for Research University of Alabama Birmingham School of Health Professions

Stephen B. Edge, MD, FACS, Alfiero Foundation Endowed Chair in Breast Oncology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Steven M. Gallo, M.S., Lead Software Engineer and Database Administrator Center for Computational Research, University at Buffalo New York Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences

Mary Ann Meeker, RN, DNS, Associate Professor, University at Buffalo School of Nursing

Laurie Connors, DNP, RN, Clinical Assistant Professor, University at Buffalo School of Nursing

Gina Bellavia, PhD, Research Assistant, University at Buffalo School of Nursing

Kimberly A. Rook, MPH, LCSW, CHES, Research Assistant, University at Buffalo School of Nursing

Kathleen Schwert, RN, BSN, Nurse Manager, Ambulatory Services, Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Yow-Wu (Bill) Wu, PhD, Associate Professor& Statistician, University at Buffalo School of Nursing

Video & Sound

Jim Lichtenthal, Distance Learning Assistant, University at Buffalo School of Nursing

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Patricia Nisbet, MS, RN, PMHNP-BC, DNP(c), Clinical Instructor, University at Buffalo School of Nursing

Program Content Reviewers

At various points throughout the development of this program, academics, clinicians and cancer survivors were asked to give input into the content and design. We thank for their time and effort:

Reverend Naomi Babcock
Gregory P. Beehler, PhD, MA
Ann M. Berger, PhD, APRN, AOCNS, FAAN
Tamara Bishop, RN
Judith Campbell, MSN, RN, AOCNS
Silvia Gisiger Camata, RN, MPH
Beverly Canin
Joann Carroll
Maureen Connors, RT, RM, CBPNI
Cheryl Crotser, PhD, RN
Carolyn Farrell, RN, MS
Katie Finch
Jeanne Harkness, RN, MS, AOCNS
Yvette Hewitt
Mercedes Holloway
Jennifer Hydeman, PhD
Esther Kopp
Jean Pupkes, MS, RN, AOCN, ACNS-BS
Kirsten Rieth
Mary Sladek, MS, RN
Ann Taylor
Lisa Teachout
Kaylynn Wrobel
The Bio-behavioral Oncology Scholarly Team, University at Buffalo School of Nursing

Website Design/Development

OtherWisz Creative Corporation, Buffalo, New York

Web Hosting

Center for Computational Research, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York


A special thank you to all the women who gave their time to participate in the research leading to the development of this program and the women who leant their images and voices to this program so that others could benefit from their wisdom.

Research support services of University at Buffalo, The State University of New York and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY.

Funding provided by the American Cancer Society Mentored Research Scholar Grant MRSG – 11-101-01-CPPB