For the third consecutive year, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing pre-doctoral students are the recipients of American Cancer Society (ACS) Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing to further prepare them for careers as nurse scientists seeking answers to cancer treatment and prevention.
Brooke Cherven, MPH, RN, CPON, and Jacqueline B. Vo, BSN, RN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholars and students in the School’s Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) Program, the only one in Alabama, will each receive a total of $30,000 in support over two years as they enter the dissertation phase of their studies.
With her research project, “Risk Factors for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine Non-initiation in Young Adult Cancer Survivors,” Cherven, a long-time pediatric oncology nurse, is focusing on preventing potential health problems young cancer survivors face after treatment – called late effects – through increasing their uptake of a vaccine that offers protection against secondary cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Vo, a former staff nurse in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at UAB Hospital, is identifying and addressing cardiovascular risk among the growing population of long-term breast cancer survivors with her project “Cardiovascular Disease Risk Among Breast Cancer Survivors.”
“Brooke and Jacqueline continue to reach heights that reflect wonderfully on the UAB School of Nursing and our nationally ranked PhD Program,” said Professor and Associate Dean for Research Karen Meneses, PhD, RN, FAAN. “They each have unique stories to tell and unique voices to tell them, and are among the best and brightest of our future nurse scientists and health care professionals. Their dedication, enthusiasm and effort will leave a lasting impression on our profession and on the many patients and families they will impact through their work locally and globally.”
Cherven’s study seeks to identify high-risk sexual behavior patterns that place male and female cancer survivors, ages 18 to 26, at increased risk for HPV infection and that may impact their decision-making process regarding receiving the HPV vaccine.
“Most children and young adults with cancer will survive their disease, but are at risk for many late effects, including heart and lung problems and secondary cancers,” Cherven said. “This includes cancers caused by HPV, which is linked to cervical and other reproductive system cancers.
“The vaccine protects against nine strains of HPV, seven of which are known to cause cancer, yet the number of children and young adults choosing to get the vaccine and complete the series is much lower than desired. Findings from my study will contribute to the development of future interventions to increase the number of those in this vulnerable population who choose to get the vaccine.”
Vo’s study addresses the issue of cardiovascular disease among breast cancer survivors. Thanks to earlier diagnoses and treatment advances, those with breast cancer are living longer, with five-year survival rates now approaching 90 percent. However, their incidence of heart disease continues to grow. She is focused on identifying cardiac risk among breast cancer survivors and, specifically, exploring cardiac risk among several groups of cancer survivors in Alabama, which ranks among the five states with the poorest heart health in the United States.
“Many breast cancer survivors are now more likely to develop heart disease than to experience a breast cancer recurrence,” Vo said. “They are at an increased risk for heart disease because of their cancer treatments, and modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors. However national guidelines do not currently have long-term recommendations for cardiac monitoring and heart disease prevention among breast cancer survivors.
“The findings from my study are expected to assist in the future development of such guidelines, add to the current literature on the subject and lead to changes in nursing care for breast cancer survivors.”
Cherven, who is mentored by Associate Professor Wendy Landier, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, and Vo, who is mentored by Meneses, join Jennifer Bail, PhD, RN, and Timiya Nolan, PhD, RN, ANP-BC, as ACS Doctoral Degree Scholarship in Cancer Nursing recipients from the School.
Vo earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the School in 2014.
The UAB School of Nursing PhD Program, the only one in Alabama, prepares nurses as researchers, faculty and leaders who will make substantive contributions to education and science in nursing with the goal of becoming independently funded investigators whose work will ultimately improve health care outcomes for all patients.