THE LIVED EXPERIENCES OF WOMEN DIAGNOSED WITH STAGE II OR GREATER GYNECOLOGICAL CANCER
Women diagnosed with late stage gynecological cancer encounter unique physical and psychosocial stressors compared to other cancer diagnoses, including poor survival rates. The existing body of literature focuses on identifying individual stressors or symptoms, studies one type of gynecological cancer, or quantifies symptom experiences. This interpretive phenomenological research study focused on the lived experiences of women diagnosed with stage II or greater gynecological cancer and it explored the individual’s perspective related to quality of life, personal perceptions of cancer-related stigma, and the health-illness transition. Meleis’ transitions theory and Roy’s adaptation model provided the conceptual framework for this study. Ten women diagnosed with stage II or greater gynecological cancer, primarily from the Midwestern United States, were included in this study. Interpretive phenomenological approach and Saldana’s (2013) processes of coding were used to guide data analysis from participant interviews. Five primary themes and 12 subthemes emerged from within the data describing The Existential Experience of Time, Awareness of Loss, Navigating New Waters, Sustaining Faith, and Moving Forward. This research promotes understanding of the personal perception and impact of the diagnosis of cancer, adaptation to the environmental stressor of cancer, and discovering meaning in the cancer experience and its impact on survivorship. This research highlighted the importance of communication by the health care provider throughout the patient’s cancer journey, and clarified the critical importance and impact of the nurse’s relationship with the patient during this process. Other implications for practice include improving knowledge of the physical and emotional changes these women experience throughout this process, in addition to recognizing the losses the women encounter and the modes of adaptation they utilize. Within this study, women diagnosed with late stage gynecological cancer provided rich, thick descriptions of the lived experience of an advanced gynecological cancer diagnosis. The unique physical and psychosocial symptoms these women experience are intertwined and influence patients’ perception of time and quality of life. Findings illuminated the significance of the health-illness transition and the concepts of adaptation and stigmatization that occur in women with advanced stage gynecological cancer and this study can provide the framework for future research in these areas.
Meyers, Stacey Marie