Experiences of Turkish Women with Breast Cancer During the Treatment Process and Facilitating Coping Factors

  • Gunusen, Neslihan Partlak (Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing Department, Faculty of Nursing, Dokuz Eylul University) ;
  • Inan, Figen Sengun (Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing Department, Faculty of Nursing, Dokuz Eylul University) ;
  • Ustun, Besti (Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing Department, Faculty of Nursing, Dokuz Eylul University)
  • Published : 2013.05.30


Background: Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in Turkey and around the world. Treatment adversely affects women's physical, psychological, and social conditions. The purpose of this study was to identify the experiences of Turkish women with breast cancer and the facilitating coping factors when they receive chemotherapy. Methods: A phenomenological approach was used to explain the experiences and facilitating factors of breast cancer patients during the treatment period. Data were collected through individual semi-structured interviews. The sample comprised 11 women with breast cancer receiving treatment. Results: At the end of the interviews conducted with women with breast cancer, two main themes were identified: adjustment and facilitating coping factors. The adjustment main theme had two sub-themes: strains and coping. Women with breast cancer suffer physical and psychological strains as well as stress related to social and health systems. While coping with these situations, they receive social support, turn to spirituality and make new senses of their lives. The facilitating coping factors main theme had four sub-themes: social support, disease-related factors, treatment-related factors and relationships with nurses. It has been determined that women receiving good social support, having undergone preventive breast surgery and/or getting attention and affection from nurses can cope with breast cancer more easily. Conclusions: Women with breast cancer have difficulty in all areas of their lives in the course of the disease and during the treatment process. Therefore, nurses should provide holistic care, teaching patients how to cope with the new situation and supporting them spiritually. Since family support is very important in Turkish culture, patients' relatives should be informed and supported at every stage of the treatment.


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