Introduction to the handbook

How was this handbook developed?

This first version of this handbook was developed by Dr. Ryan Hamilton from the University of New Brunswick. He completed a study with breast cancer survivors in order to help them enhance their coping skills. After completing that project, Dr. Hamilton began collaborating with Dr. Roanne Thomas from the University of Ottawa. Dr. Thomas had been working on projects with cancer survivors who were experiencing lymphedema. Together, they initiated the Learning to Live with Lymphedema research program. This research program focuses on the psychological and social impacts of living with secondary lymphedema after cancer. To date, there are three studies associated with the Learning to Live with Lymphedema research program:

Study 1 aimed to document hope and coping in people living with lymphedema. Thirteen people living with lymphedema were interviewed about their experiences. The results of these interviews were used to design workshops, using the original positive self-talk handbook developed by Dr. Hamilton as a framework. Study 2 involved the implementation of the workshops. The team then evaluated the appropriateness and potential impact of the workshops on hope and quality of life. Nineteen cancer survivors with secondary lymphedema took part in this stage of the research program. Workshop participants were interviewed and given questionnaires to learn from their experiences of the intervention. Following the workshops, a video was produced with four of the participants and is referenced in this handbook and freely available on the Living with Lymphedema channel.


  1. Hamilton, R., Miedema, B., MacIntyre, L., & Easley, J. (2011). Enhancing breast cancer survivors copingskills using a positive self-talk intervention: Lessons from a community based group delivery model. Current Oncology, 18 (2), 46-53.
  1. Thomas, R. & Hamilton, R. (2014). Illustrating the (in)visible: Understanding the impact of loss in adults living with secondary lymphedema after cancer. Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, 9 (24354).
  1. Hamilton, R. & Thomas, R. (2015). Renegotiating hope while living with lymphoedema after cancer: a qualitative study. European Journal of Cancer Care.
  1. Thomas, R., Hamilton, R. (2016) Composing hope through collage: A community-based intervention for cancer survivors living with lymphedema. Health Psychology Open, 3(2).