This study examines the experiences faced by employed female cancer survivors when developing resilience. We used a phenomenological approach to understand these experiences and challenges. A total of ten participants with different types of cancer participated in this research, which was carried out using semi-structured interviews. Social media was used for triangulating the data collected. The meanings of resilience were monitored through the particpants’ social media accounts (namely, Facebook and Instagram) from the time of diagnosis until they returned to work. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Five themes emerged from the data collected: (a) resilience through painful experience, (b) resilience through acceptance, (c) cognitive resilience, (d) emotional/psychological resilience, and (e) behavioural resilience. From our participants, we gained insight into the meaning and conceptual definition of the cancer journey. The study is based on the authentic experiences of the participants. The findings are intended to create awareness among other employed women to aid the development of their resilience. The study results provide family counsellors and practitioners in the Malaysian context with guidelines to help women have positive lives in the future.


cancer survivors, employed women, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), phenomenology, resilience

Author Bio(s)

Dr Melati Sumari is an Associate Professor at the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, Faculty of Education, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Dr Sumari is also a Registered Counselor. Please address correspondence to melati@um.edu.my.

Ms Nordinah Mohd Kassim is a registered counselor at the International Islamic University of Malaysia. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree at the University of Malaya. Please address correspondence to pva180042@siswa.um.edu.my.

Dr Norsafatul Aznin A.Razak is a senior lecturer at the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, Faculty of Education, University of Malaya. Dr A.Razak is also a Registered Counselor. Please address correspondence to safatul@um.edu.my.


The authors would like to thank Dr Marcus Griffin from American Proofreading Center for his professional assistance in proofreading this article

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