The Disease Process Experiences of Women Diagnosed with Breast Cancer in the Psycho-Social Context

Didem Şimşek Öcal, Aydoğan Aykut Ceyhan Full Text: PDF


This study aims to reveal how women diagnosed with breast cancer experience the disease process in the psychosocial context. The participants of the phenomenological designed study consisted of 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer. The findings that were obtained through semi-structured interviews centered around the themes of responses to the disease, coping strategies, sources of social support, and existential reflections. With regards to the responses to the disease, the participants’ responses when diagnosed with breast cancer were under the sub-themes of shock, emptiness, mental breakdown, inability to accept the diagnosis, despair, seeking social support, anxiety, and self-blame; and after the diagnosis, they were under the sub-themes of acceptance, anxiety, sadness, and helplessness. The coping strategies used by the women included the sub-themes of coping through spirituality, social support, obtaining information, exercise, and nutrition. The social support sources of women fell under the sub-themes of spouse support, friend support, support of other family members, and physician support. In terms of existential reflections, the women were found to have experienced the sub-themes of maturing, re-interpreting life, and facing death.

Keywords: Cancer, Breast Cancer, Coping strategies, Social support, Existential anxiety