An exploration of the post-treatment psychosocial experiences of female adult cancer patients
ABSTRACT This study explores the post-treatment psychosocial experiences of female adult cancer patients. In particular, this study aims at identifying common themes in the nature of their experiences. This research was exploratory in nature and took place within the context of the qualitative paradigm. The focus group method was utilised in collecting data. The six participants were white Christian females between the ages of 50 and 62 who had completed treatment (either chemotherapy, radiation or both) not more than four months prior to the study. Data were analysed by means of categorical content analysis. Four out of the six participants reported relief as well as mixed emotions after discovering they had survived cancer. A major finding of this research was that all of the participants were experiencing anxiety that the cancer might recur. Five out of the six participants reported ample support from their partners and other family members. The entire group of participants admitted that their genuine friends remained supportive throughout treatment, while some friends avoided them when they had cancer, but were willing to continue the friendship after treatment. This impacted negatively on their friendship. The entire group mentioned negative social experiences due to the stigma attached to having cancer. It was also found that the participants preferred spending time with people who have insight into the meaning of life. All of the participants agreed that without their relationship with God and the social support structure including churches and acquaintances at church, they would not be able to get through their experiences during and after treatment. The entire group mentioned the experience of a greater appreciation for life after having completed treatment and survived cancer. It is evident that the experiences of cancer survivors in the South African context necessitate further research and that an understanding of these experiences plays a crucial role in the development of successful interventions for survivors, their families and the wider social community in regard to cancer.
cancer, post-treatment, psychosocial experiences, female patients