The Lived Experience of Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer

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Abstract

Little is known about the long-term impact of surviving childhood cancer. Most children diagnosed with cancer now survive into adulthood due to advances in medical treatment. Although the number of survivors of childhood cancer has increased, a review of the literature revealed a paucity of studies that explores survivorship of childhood cancer from the perspective of the adult survivor. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine the lived experience of 12 adults who survived childhood cancer. This research methodology allows the meaning or essences of experiences that occurred to be uncovered. Four themes emerged from these data: (1) ongoing consequences for having had cancer, (2) living with uncertainty, (3) the cancer experience is embodied into one's present sense of self, and (4) support is valued. The results of this study demonstrate that a childhood cancer experience affects the life of each survivor, which results in specific health care needs. This knowledge is important as the number of survivors increases. Knowledge of their concerns is imperative prior to providing appropriate health care.

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