Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Family Therapy

Department

Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Advisor

Shelley Green

Committee Member

James Hibel

Committee Member

Christine Ajayi

Abstract

This study explored the lived experiences of breast cancer survivors and their intimate partners. The research was informed by a social constructionist framework and phenomenological method of inquiry. While the body of literature on the physical, psychological, and social health of breast cancer survivors is growing, only a few studies have focused solely on the lived experience of survivorship and the uncertainty of recurrence. This study sought to explore the construction of meaning in the couples' context and experiences of surviving breast cancer. The present study examined how breast cancer survivors make meaning of their survivorship in context of living with the fear of recurrence. The researcher investigated the patients' and their intimate partners' experiences of survivorship to gain a better understanding of how their lived experiences affect their relationships to themselves and their significant other and how they cope with the uncertainty of recurrence. The study provided clinical implications for medical family therapists working with breast cancer survivors for couples managing the challenges with survivorship and uncertainty.

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