"Once you're 82 going on 83, surviving has a different meaning": older breast cancer survivors reflect on cancer survivorship.

Abstract:

BACKGROUND:Because the concept of cancer survivorship (CS) has become widely popularized, it is tempting to assume that all individuals treated for cancer will personally identify with the public term. This is the first investigation about the meaning of the taken-for-granted concept from the perspective of a group of older survivors. OBJECTIVES:How women 70 years or older who recently completed treatment for primary, early-stage breast cancer relate to concepts such as "cancer survivor" and "cancer survivorship." METHOD:Data were collected and analyzed using constructivist grounded theory. RESULTS:The majority of the 18 women, 70 to 94 years of age, did not self-identify as cancer survivors or identify with the phases of CS. Some had never heard of CS. Instead of perceiving CS as a discrete concept, the women used comparisons and self-judgments to contemplate how much they deserved the title, how they compared with real cancer survivors, and how they can be certain that they are cancer-free. CONCLUSIONS:Although the benefits of identifying as a cancer survivor may be self-evident to health care providers and researchers, the women did not simply accept the generic concept as part of their well-established personal identities. Cancer survivorship was an ambiguous concept that predated the women's cancer experience. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE:The generic title of cancer survivor is here to stay because it is useful to advocates, consumers, providers, and researchers alike. However, "survivors" will be best served by providers and researchers who are aware that the concept is not organic but is learned from outside sources.

journal_name

Cancer Nurs

journal_title

Cancer nursing

authors

Pieters HC,Heilemann MV

doi

10.1097/NCC.0b013e3181ef77b5

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

2011-03-01 00:00:00

pages

124-33

issue

2

eissn

0162-220X

issn

1538-9804

pii

00002820-201103000-00006

journal_volume

34

pub_type

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