Phenomenology: Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a deadly disease that affects women from all walks of life. Its presence is marked by an individual having a lump in the breast, change of skin color, alteration of the shape of the breast and fluid emanating from the nipples. Patients diagnosed with this ailment acknowledge the development of frustrations with the numerous changes in their bodies (Fu and Rosedale 853). They lay an emphasis on the importance of having a support structure such as family and friends although most of them feel an abandonment upon completion of the treatment cycle. Breast cancer survivors and patients have harrowing tales about the effects of this diseases on their physiological growth.
Some of the critical elements that arose in the phenomenological study on breast cancer include patient-centered care, timely referral into secondary care, communication, information and support, emotional help, shared decision-making and care planning, and the overall care given to the patients. Majority of the patients feel that the care given should have their input at every stage as opposed to the directives that only doctors or caregivers pursue. Thus, it will lead to a better kind of treatment that has the support of all stakeholders without affecting their overall growth patterns (Fu and Rosedale 852). The element of communication and support ranked highly among the patients’ discussions as it facilitated their stability and concern especially at the time of treatment and post period. The main issue was that at the time of treatment, they get to be in their own world, battling the effects and pain from it, while looking towards a successful transition on the other side or face the reality of not being cured.
The interrelationship between the core elements makes for an interesting juncture of breast cancer phenomenology. For example, it can be seen that if patient-centered care is not delivered, the quality of timely referral into the required secondary care becomes less. It then translates to poor decision-making care and planning while the support and continuity of care is compromised all the while. On the other hand, there is an element of personal remorse when the patients are faced with the decision-making process. This normally occurs when the breast cancer is at a critical stage and integral decisions have to be made in order to limit the damage done to the body (Doumit et al. 36). The discussions tend to show that patients become aware of the kind of treatment that they are likely to undertake even if the information and support can suggest otherwise. It then accounts for the care planning which is necessary in providing hope for full treatment and recovery, or relapse and eventual succumbing to the illness.
When it comes to lived experiences from breast cancer survivors, different factors arose for me as I understood the phenomenological implications that the core elements have in the process. Prior knowledge of the illness as well as understanding the normal anatomy of health breasts was important in helping them identify the changes. It then contributed to earlier seeking of treatment and possibly saving them from a full-blown ailment. The stages of the cancer diagnosis also contributed to their prognosis especially when survivorship is considered. The fear of recurrence also contributed to their aggressive treatment choices in order to beat the illness at the slightest opportunity (Horgan et al 1119). On the other hand, the experiences of body changes provided the greatest challenge for the women. In treatment, issues of hair and weight loss featured prominently as it affected their self-esteem and it proved detrimental to their approach on chances of survival.
Doumit, Myrna A., et al. “Coping With Breast Cancer”. Cancer Nursing, vol. 33, no. 2, 2010, pp. E33-E39.
Fu, Mei R., and Mary Rosedale. “Breast Cancer Survivors’ Experiences of Lymphedema-Related Symptoms.” Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, vol. 38, no. 6, 2009, pp. 849 859.
Horgan, Olga, et al. “Experiencing positive change after a diagnosis of breast cancer: a grounded theory analysis.” Psycho-Oncology, vol. 20, no. 10, 2010, pp. 1116-1125.
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