Living on the outside looking in: a theory of living with advanced breast cancer

Author(s): Davies M, Sque M


Much of the literature on women's experiences of breast cancer relates to diagnosis and initial treatment. The aim of this research was to develop a theory to explain the meaning and experience of living with advanced breast cancer. A grounded theory approach was used and ten women under the care of one hospice explained their experiences during semi-structured interviews. The findings suggest that there are significant issues and difficulties facing women with advanced breast cancer, culminating in feelings of isolation and the experience of living with the fear of advancing disease. A theory, living on the outside looking in, was developed to explain the experiences of the participants. This integrates the following five categories: reconciling a different me; time bomb; media effect; professional waning; rescuers. The category 'reconciling a different me' was identified as the core variable and had an explicatory relationship to the other four categories. The findings raise issues regarding appropriate support.

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