A study by the ULL and the Cabildo shows the socio-labor repercussions after 5 years with breast cancer – ULL

María del Carmen Bonfante, president of Ámate, and Carmen Nieves Pérez, professor of Sociology at the ULL.

The Cabildo de Tenerife, through the Delegated Council for Equality and Prevention of Gender Violence and Sinpromi, has financed the study The repercussions of breast cancer in the lives of women. The effects after years of diagnosis, prepared by the University of La Laguna and carried out in collaboration with the Tenerife Breast Cancer Association (Ámate), which shows the social, occupational and psychological consequences of this disease and its treatments after five years. The area’s insular councilor, Priscila de León, explained that “the objective of this initiative has been to provide detailed results on what life is like for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, in order to identify the effects of this disease. , know needs and opportunities ”. Thanks to this study, it has been possible to know in depth the reality of many women who appear in society as cancer survivors “but who face situations that are rarely visible,” he said.

De León added that the lack of information on what has happened several years after the diagnosis was made made us think about the need to fill this gap and thus be able to propose well-directed action proposals. “Our intention has also been to consolidate the collaboration that we already maintain with entities such as Ámate, whose work is essential, attending to the needs that they transmit to us and that they know first-hand, to help improve people’s quality of life” .

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The insular director of Innovation, Planning and Strategy of Social Action, Ascensión Bacallado, assured that “the great value of this work is to give visibility to the reality of the affected people, who are accompanied during the process but not later. enough in his later life, something that the study focuses very well ”. In addition, he thanked, from Simpromi, “the focus that has been placed on the part of disability, on the labor insertion of affected people, for which we develop all our actions, as well as the need to adapt jobs , on what is also focused in this study, and that is so important ”.

Likewise, the president of Ámate, María del Carmen Bonfante, pointed out the difficulties faced by women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. “More than 25% of women are abandoned by their partner because, according to them, they cannot cope with that situation; many lose their home, guardianship of their children, their job … If today it is difficult to find a job, a woman with breast cancer has it much more difficult, “he said. Bonfante highlighted the “fundamental” predisposition of the University of La Laguna, the Cabildo, the IASS and Sinpromi to carry out this research and pointed out the need for it to be disseminated to make visible and make known to society the reality faced by women .

Main conclusions

The professor of Sociology at the University of La Laguna, Carmen Nieves Pérez, detailed the keys to this study, among which she highlighted the fact that the economic situation for 4 out of 10 women worsened after cancer, a situation that worsens in function of educational level and job categories. Pérez explained that almost half of the respondents (48%) have been recognized some degree of disability, since breast cancer leaves sequelae that cause disabilities to work and to carry out daily tasks. At this point, it was found that the degree of recognition does not always lead to improvements in job placement. Another fact that stands out is that the unemployed women who participated in the study (60%) consider that cancer has been an obstacle to their employment. The experiences described in the interviews suggest that gender and age are clearly discriminating factors when it comes to finding employment.

For only 35% of the women who were working when they were diagnosed with cancer, the working conditions have adapted to their new circumstances. During the interviews, the different difficulties that these women face in maintaining the rhythm of work were collected, such as lack of protection in the case of self-employed workers; stigmas by companies; layoffs or non-renewals; and workplace harassment.

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Carmen Nieves Pérez assured that 80% of the women have been treated with chemotherapy and hormone therapy, the two most frequent treatments, which generate numerous side effects and affect the lives of patients. The sequelae of a prolonged treatment such as hormonal therapy is pointed out as a factor that conditions their lives.

The study has also included a series of recommendations, such as the need for changes that allow greater coordination between the different agents, speed in evaluations and improvements in labor adaptations, new labor and economic policies that help insertion in the workplace. labor market of all unemployed women.

The need, on the part of the public health services, for more specialized resources in prevention, treatment and care is another of the recommendations that is highlighted in the analysis, since the patients encounter many difficulties in carrying out household chores and to keep your job. To carry out this research, questionnaires were conducted on 256 women living in Tenerife, between the months of January and November 2020, as well as 13 interviews with women with different socio-occupational and medical profiles.

(Press release and photos provided).