Mothers and daughters' experiences of breast cancer : family roles, responsibilities, and relationships
Burles, Meridith Clare
Existing research suggests that illness can have profound implications for the family. The purpose of this thesis is to explore mothers and daughters’ experiences of the mothers’ breast cancer in order to determine how their lives were affected by the illness. In particular, I focus on shifts that occurred in their family roles, responsibilities, and relationships. Twelve qualitative interviews were performed with four mother-daughter dyads. Each mother and daughter participated in an initial interview together, as well as a separate follow-up interview. Interview data was analyzed thematically using a blended feminist-interpretive approach. The major themes emerging from the analysis pertained to: shifts in family roles and responsibilities, coping with breast cancer, and growth in family relationships. These themes identify specific aspects of mothers and daughters’ lives that were affected by breast cancer. Specifically, the findings contribute to the overarching theme that mothers and daughters experienced “biographical disruption” as a result of the mothers’ breast cancer, in that the illness required the women to re-assess their everyday lives and expectations for the future. However, the range of experiences described by the mothers and daughters suggest that the degree to which biographical disruption occurred varied depending on the extent to which their lives were altered by breast cancer. Therefore, I conclude that mothers and daughters experienced varying degrees of biographical disruption as a result of the mothers’ breast cancer. This conclusion indicates that the breast cancer diagnosis has an array of significant implications for mothers and daughters, some of which continue well beyond the completion of acute care. Recognizing that mothers and daughters’ family roles, responsibilities, and relationships were affected to some extent by the breast cancer experience will help to improve the types of support offered to women in the future.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteePoudrier, Jennifer; Griffin, Ron
Copyright DateNovember 2006
illness and the family