Birkbeck Research Centre for Building Resilience in Breast Cancer (BRiC)

Welcome to Birkbeck's new Research Centre for Building Resilience in Breast Cancer (BRiC). BRiC was founded by Naz Derakshan, who is a Professor of Experimental Psychopathology specialising in the cognitive neuroscience of anxiety and depression in the department of Psychological Sciences at Birkbeck University of London, UK. BRiC has two deputy heads: Tamsin Sargeant and Vicky Wilkes, and four ambassadors: Anita Traynor, Jenny Richards, Jan Snape and Dr Caroline Humber. We are all women with a diagnosis of primary or secondary breast cancer.                                                                                                                                                                          

Our Research Aims

Targeting Emotional and Cognitive Vulnerability in Breast Cancer:

Our first aim is to improve cognitive and emotional health in primary as well as secondary breast cancer. Research shows that the traumatic impact of diagnosis and harsh treatments including the classic chemo brain reduces cognitive efficiency with increasing rates in anxiety and depression impairing quality of life. Fear of recurrence in women with a diagnosis of primary breast cancer and progression of disease in women with secondary breast cancer can constitute a major threat to every day well-being.

Paving Pathways of Resilience in Breast Cancer: 

Our second aim is to boost resilience and psychological flexibility towards better quality of life.

Why resilience?

Resilience is the practice of adaptation, flexibility, and adjustment. When confronted with a life-threatening disease such as breast cancer, options become limited, priorities change, and we struggle to find our new 'normal'. Practicing resilience can help us endure the emotional roller coasters and the uncertainty we face. Research on brain neuroplasticity shows that our brains are pretty good at forming new neural connections when exercised with interventions that boost processing efficiency. Resilience builds on this neuroplasticity.

What has our Research shown?:

Evidence shows that impairments in attentional control can enhance vulnerability to anxiety and depression. BRiC's research attempts to underpin neurocognitive mechanisms of emotional vulnerability in breast cancer and target those mechanisms through adaptive cognitive control training interventions to improve cognitive and emotional health. These interventions can aid in the efficacy of treatments such as mindfulness and CBT that rely on processing efficiency. News!! Check out our recent publication, "Training Cognitive Control to Reduce Emotional Vulnerability in Breast Cancer" in Psycho-oncology. Huge and heart-felt thanks to all those participants who took part in the intervention and for helping us build our research programme on resilience.  Here’s a preview, and the full text will be available on line soon so watch this space! 

Our Support Group and Interactive Facebook page:

BRiC has a private (closed) psycho-educational support group with around 1,300 UK members, and is open to any woman with a diagnosis of breast cancer in the UK.

Our group provides a confidential, secure knowledge and experience exchange platform for members to engage in interactive and guided discussions with the aim of promoring resilience, adaptability and courage. We are diverse, and include women with primary breast cancer as well as secondary breast cancer. We publish summaries of our weekly group discussions, research and news features and our occasional and very well-received HuffPostUK blogs. We have over 3,550 followers already! If you want to join us click here.

Our Blog, Panning for Gold

We launched our blog, ‘Panning for Gold’ on World Cancer Awareness Day, 4th February 2016. It is open to any woman living in the UK who wants to share their story with others. It is intended to represent the many voices of women with a breast cancer diagnosis reflecting on how they cope through the highs and lows, the joys and the sadness, celebrating the many achievements they've made through their journey.