Cancer survivorship: The other side. The lived experience of partners of long-term breast cancer survivors
AuthorPelusi, Jody Louise
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractAs the number of women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer continues to rise, so does the population of long-term breast cancer survivors. Many factors influence the overall outcome of their experience, one of which is the support from their partners. Much has been written on the issues of women with breast cancer, but what is lacking in the literature are the voices of their partners during the long-term survival phase of the disease. The purpose of this study was to conduct a phenomenological study to (1) describe the essential structure of the experience of being a partner of a long-term breast cancer survivor, and (2) compare theme patterns of the partners of long-term breast cancer survivors with those of long-term breast cancer survivors. The sample consisted of seven participants with the average age of 55 years. Time together as partners averaged 25.2 years. The average time since the cancer diagnosis was 9.5 years. The research method consisted of open-ended audiotaped interviews. Colaizzi's eight-step method of analysis was utilized. Ten theme categories were identified from the data: the invisible enemies--cancer and uncertainty, a sense of duty, constant vigilance, from dreams to reality, turning my eyes away but not my heart, paying the price, don't worry--be happy, who are we now, rebuilding our home, and the everlasting journey. From these theme categories, the essential structure was identified. In searching for the meaning of the journey, the partner is influenced by several factors: their own as well as the patient's coping skills and quality of life, as well as the patient's overall response to cancer treatment. Partners experience many of the same issues as the patient, but their response to and the ability to travel along this cancer journey is based on their role as a partner and their sense of duty to the patient. The partner's goal is to bring structure and stability to the uncertainty of cancer and to find meaning for oneself and the patient during this experience.
Degree ProgramGraduate College