Taking Lemons and Making Lemonade: Posttraumatic Growth From Pediatric Cancer

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Abstract

Purpose:

The purpose of this study was to examine the lived experiences of the perceived long-term effects of pediatric cancer on adult survivors and whether these effects had bearing on their primary support persons.

Design:

This work was guided by van Manen’s “new” interpretive phenomenology.

Methods:

Ten survivors of pediatric cancer (aged 21–28 years) and 9 of their support persons (aged 23–73 years) were recruited. Background questionnaires were administered, and interviews were conducted. Field notes were collected, and member checks were administered for data credibility.

Results:

A total of 4 themes emerged from this work; however, only the theme discussing posttraumatic growth will be discussed. Posttraumatic growth manifested in different ways, such as motivation for career or schooling choices, doing charity work, working with cancer organizations, or mentoring children undergoing pediatric cancer treatment.

Conclusions:

This work may provide comfort to other individuals with pediatric cancer knowing that they are not alone in their journeys. Healthcare providers should attempt to make pediatric cancer experiences as “normal” as possible for patients and their families and observe for signs of stress in their patients. As well, it is important for the pediatric cancer literature to illustrate that young adult survivors of pediatric cancer find positive outcomes in their experiences.

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