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BPOS conference 2014: The emotional impact of cancer

In February 2014 the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) hosted the British Psychosocial-Oncology Society (BPOS) conference.

Lydia Harkin, a full-time PhD student working in UCLan’s School of Health. She has just entered her second year and is researching: How do cancer survivors and their families experience online cancer support groups?

Lydia attended the conference and gave this account:

As it was my first time attending and presenting at a BPOS national conference, it was a stimulating and exciting event for me.

The mission of the society is to promote the advancement of education, clinical practice, and research in psychosocial oncology. BPOS draws from a wide audience; attending the conference were cancer survivors, healthcare professionals, and experienced as well as novice researchers and PhD students, such as myself.

This meant that the conference was more than simply a chance to present my PhD. The opportunity to network amongst such a range of people was invaluable in exploring the importance of my research, and highlighting multiple implications of my work. This was particularly evident during the multiple social opportunities afforded within the conference and at the three course meal provided at the Marriot hotel - in the company of a local choir no less.

The two days were very successful. Keynote speakers Prof Mari Lloyd-Williams (University of Liverpool), Prof Daniel Kelly (Cardiff University) and Prof Tom Hack (University of Manitoba, Canada) captivated the audience with talks that applied to many walks of cancer research. There were a number of presentations from investigations currently underway, demonstrating the cutting edge of research. In addition, two workshops were ran on day two, promoting active engagement from all conference members on two pertinent issues in psychosocial-oncological care.

In addition to hosting the event, UCLan staff and students were well represented. Prof Tom Hack is Visiting Professor at UCLan, Dr Susan Williamson (Senior Research Fellow) facilitated one of the workshop sessions on sexuality and Prof Kinta Beaver (Professor of Cancer Care) won the award for best presentation. Members of the UCLan Cancer Studies group also attended, including representation from the Schools of Health, Psychology and Medicine and Dentistry.

The conference emphasised that a community of researchers are working side-by-side to promote psychosocial cancer care in the UK and internationally. Opportunities such as the BPOS conference should be encouraged to anyone stepping into a research career path. By attending this conference, I was able to contextualise where my research and I fit into this community and determine where I can lead my future.

Contact Lydia - Email: Twitter: @ljharkin