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Researcher devoted to cancer care

By Leanne Miles

Professor Marilynne Kirshbaum has specialised in cancer care nursing for more than 30 years Professor Marilynne Kirshbaum has specialised in cancer care nursing for more than 30 years

Revitalising research by a Charles Darwin University academic aims to reinvigorate and re-energise cancer patients across the globe.

Professor Marilynne Kirshbaum has specialised in cancer care nursing for more than 30 years joining Charles Darwin University as the theme leader of nursing, from the University of Huddersfield in the United Kingdom.

Originally from New York in the United States, Professor Kirshbaum, who has a background in psychology, anthropology and nursing, is passionate about helping people cope with and recover from life-threatening disease, particularly breast cancer.

“By combining the physical and social sciences I wanted to develop a deeper understanding of people and how to assist with healing and relieving distress both physically and mentally,” Professor Kirshbaum said.

Commencing her career as a nurse, it was a life-changing job in clinical research for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer in the UK that sparked her main research interest.

“I observed that often, even for those in recovery from breast cancer, fatigue was one of the biggest barriers to feeling better and whole again,” she said. “Much of my research has looked into the benefits of exercise for recovering cancer patients and providing information and advice to nurses who have a huge influence over their patients.”

Professor Kirshbaum said that research into supportive therapies that addressed the psychosocial and physical impacts of living with disease were a vital addition to medical treatment to assist treatment and recovery.

“There is so much to know and publicise about how to assist people with their emotional wellbeing, which flows into other areas,” she said. “Research suggests that exercise not only helps fatigue, but it also increases cancer immunity.”

A prolific researcher, Professor Kirshbaum has been involved in numerous international partnerships in the UK, USA, Italy, Thailand, Canada and Israel. She gained her Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Manchester, UK and has published extensively. Her research is focused on managing fatigue and understanding the way different sources of energy can be used. She is a renowned expert on exercise and cancer-fatigue related research. More recently her research has veered towards looking into options for those who may not be able to exercise such as Reiki and Attention (Energy) Restoration.

As theme leader of nursing at CDU, Professor Kirshbaum leads the staff educating the university’s largest student cohort. As theme leader she also hopes to raise awareness of the contribution nurses make to research and build up expertise here.