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Keywords

Mothers' experiences, Mothers' roles, Oncology, Role changes

 

Authors

  1. Fitch, Margaret I. R.N., Ph.D.
  2. Bunston, Terry M.S.W., Ph.D.
  3. Elliot, Mary M.D., F.R.C.P.C.

Abstract

As social entities, individuals enact roles and carry out responsibilities. Roles are learned and influenced by many social forces. They give meaning and value to life and foster a sense of belonging and contribution. Roles can undergo profound transformation during and after a diagnosis of cancer. In most family situations, the role of mother is a significant caretaking role. However, little research has focused on understanding the alterations that can occur in the mother's role when a woman faces cancer. The purpose of this study was to explore, from a woman's perspective, the experience of being a mother living with life-threatening illness. In-depth interviews were held with 47 mothers diagnosed as having cancer. Their children ranged in age from 1 to 18 years. Content and theme analyses were performed on the transcribed texts. The findings describe the impact of the cancer on the women and their families and how they felt about any changes in their roles as mothers.