Wearing the Mask of Wellness: The Experience of Young Women Living With Advanced Breast Cancer

Debra M. Lundquist

Donna L. Berry

Marie Boltz

Susan A. DeSanto-Madeya

Pamela J. Grace

advanced cancer, breast cancer, unmet needs, coping, quality of life, qualitative research
ONF 2019, 46(3), 329-337. DOI: 10.1188/19.ONF.329-337

Purpose: To describe and interpret the lived experiences of young women with advanced breast cancer.

Participants & Setting: 12 women, aged 25–39 years with advanced breast cancer, were recruited from private Facebook groups for women with breast cancer.

Methodologic Approach: Van Manen’s hermeneutic phenomenologic method was used. Data were collected through one or more semi-structured interviews over a six-month period. Analysis was conducted using NVivo, version 11.

Findings: The participants’ multidimensional experiences were described by the overarching theme of wearing the mask of wellness in the presence of life-threatening illness.

Implications for Nursing: This study provides insight into the experiences of young women living with advanced breast cancer. Because these women may not appear ill to the general population, their needs and struggles are not well understood. The results of this study can be a baseline for additional research and clinical interventions.

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