Summer Student in Focus- Laura Oldacres

Back in May, the Irish Cancer Society was delighted to announce the awardees of our 2021 Social Nursing and Allied Health Sciences Summer Studentships. One of those students was Laura Oldacres, a nursing student at University College Cork. Laura was awarded a 2021 Summer Studentship, under the supervision of Dr Mohamad Saab and Prof Josephine Hegarty, to complete her study: ‘Interventions promoting cognitive function in patients with cancer experiencing “chemo-brain”: A systematic Review to support the development of a targeted intervention.’

People who undergo cancer treatment can suffer for chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment (CRCI), known as ‘chemo-brain’, or ‘chemo-fog’. Features include reduced working memory, problems remembering, poor concentration, attention difficulties, reduced processing speed and poor executive function.

The aim of Laura’s research was to identify treatments used to improve cognitive functioning in cancer survivors suffering from ‘chemo-brain’. This involved a thorough systematic search of research journals for studies on ‘chemo-brain’, closely analysing all relevant studies to determine the quality and relevance of results, and presenting these results, highlighting which treatments for ‘chemo-brain’, work and which do not.

Laura is working on publishing her findings in an academic journal, which will have a real impact in the field. We look forward to reading your published article Laura!

The Summer Studentship programme offers undergraduate students the opportunity to undertake a cancer research project and to work with established researchers in high-quality academic environments.

This has helped Laura to develop crucial research skills, building on those developed through her studies. 

She said, "I have enjoyed learning how to read critically, not to take research at face value but to ask questions and assess a piece of research… as well as being able to identify unusual findings or research that is particularly unique in its methodology or objectives”, in relation to “chemo-brain”.

We are delighted to hear that Laura’s experience has reinforced her desire to work in the cancer research space. 

“This studentship has confirmed for me that I enjoy and wish to be involved in research throughout my career," she said. 

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As I grow in clinical experience I hope to expand my role and responsibilities to include involvement in research projects with a particular view to a combined clinical-research-teaching role.

Laura Oldacres

"This project investigating “chemo-brain” has allowed me to expand my knowledge particularly in relation to the experience of breast cancer survivors. I hope to investigate career opportunities relating to surgical and medical oncology, especially in the care of breast cancer patients. In this field I feel there are ample opportunities for research and potential to improve patient care and experience and I intend to be involved in this throughout my career," she said. 

The Irish Cancer Society is delighted with the success of Laura’s work and we wish her all the best with her studies and future career.