Grief and Gracefulness Regarding Cancer Experiences Among Young Women

Elizabeth Croson

Jessica Keim-Malpass
infertility, online cancer blogs, motherhood, grief, family, gracefulness
ONF 2016, 43(6), 747-753. DOI: 10.1188/16.ONF.747-753

Purpose/Objectives: To gain a unique perspective of young women with cancer aged 20–39 years who are experiencing challenges with fertility and parenting through analysis of cancer blogs.

Research Approach: A secondary analysis of online narratives using a focused thematic analysis approach, comparing women who were mothers prior to diagnosis with women who are exploring the possibility of motherhood after diagnosis.

Setting: Blogs found through websites and social media venues for young adults with cancer.

Participants: 10 women aged 20–39 who maintained blogs about their cancer experiences.

Methodologic Approach: Thematic analysis using line-by-line coding. Construction of comparative themes and meanings were guided by the analytic framework of the stages of grief.

Findings: Themes emerged along the grieving trajectory of denial (maintaining routines and discussing “eggs”), depression (losing motherhood and anticipatory grief), and acceptance (finding joy moment to moment and hope for pregnancy).

Conclusions: Motherhood and infertility are unique experiences for young women with cancer but are expressed similarly through the stages of grief: denial, depression, and acceptance.

Interpretation: Understanding the grief trajectories of young women with cancer will help nurses to develop screening tools and supportive interventions.

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