Cancer care and sexual health: different for who is different?

As final part of my studies ‘Applied Psychology’, I (Mina) chose to zoom in on cancer care and sexual health. During my internship at ‘Kom op tegen Kanker’, my interest in this topic was sparked. I collaborated with a Brussels support group for (ex-)cancer patients with a migration background, named ‘Inak‘. I quickly noticed a lack of data on cancer care and sexual health among minorities. According to me, it was high time to make the voices of female (ex-)cancer patients with Moroccan and Turkish roots heard as well. I decided to conduct in-depth interviews with these women to map their care needs. The target group included women between 45 and 54 years old. For me, it was obvious to take into account the ‘layers’ of their identity. The fact that I am a Muslima and have Moroccan roots myself seemed to lower the threshold. As a native researcher, I tried to find out whether gender, culture, ethnicity and religion play a role for these women in discussing sexual health with healthcare providers. Follow me on a walk through some interesting findings of my research. 😊

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Spoiler alert: a wave of brand new Isala results

Get ready! New Isala results are available… NOW! Today is not just a random day of course. It is Isala’s third birthday! One big party! Last summer we already shared the first results of the second Isala phase with you. For this second phase, we selected almost 300 women and studied whether their vaginal microbiome had changed over a few months. But we also asked these women to sample other body areas. Today we have brand new results as a gift for them! We are extremely grateful for their participation and therefore they receive something in return! As of today, every participant of the second Isala phase can check an updated personal profile. In this blog we summarize more general highlights of what we have found. Read on! 😊

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Help eliminate STDs from the world!

Did you know that chlamydia is the most common STD (or sexually transmitted disease) in Belgium and is mainly diagnosed in young people under 25? It is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Because there are often no symptoms, this bacterium can spread easily, causing harmful effects. Indeed, without treatment, Chlamydia infections can cause fertility problems and chronic abdominal pain in women. In men, this infection can in turn cause epididymitis. So prevention is better than cure! Unfortunately, there is currently still no vaccine against chlamydia available and we want to change that with the Isala team… Chlamydia out of the world! How cool does that sound?

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Our very first Isala event is almost here!

Big news! The very first Isala event is approaching! During this event, many well-known experts will give a scientific lecture on a saga of topics related to vaginal health. The Isala symposium (in English) will take place on Tuesday January 24th 2023 between 1 and 8:30 PM at ‘Campus Drie Eiken’ of the University of Antwerp. Hopefully you already registered (whether or not online) to have a great time with us. 😊

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A volcano in my tummy

During a summer night in Morocco, I could not sleep at night due to stabbing cramps in my lower abdomen. To not wake up the rest of my family, I took the stairs to the bathroom in silence. I had back pain, heavy back pain, like I was carrying cement bags on my back. The cramps did not make it any easier. I was barely able to make it to the bathroom. There, my vision became blurry. I remember it like it was yesterday. I saw black spots dancing in front of me, sweat was dripping off me and I struggled to stand straight. I held on to the door handle and quietly collapsed. While sitting on the floor, I tapped my foot against the floor to shift the focus of my thoughts and forget the pain of my terrible cramps. After a few minutes, I dragged myself back to my room, laid down in foetal position and whispered a prayer several times until I fell asleep.

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