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Parenting Experiences With Adolescent Daughters When Mothers Have Breast Cancer

Deborah Stiffler
Joan Haase
Barbara Hosei
Brooke Barada
ONF 2008, 35(1), 113-120 DOI: 10.1188/08.ONF.113-120

Purpose/Objectives: To examine maternal parenting during the time when a mother is diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer from the mothers' and adolescent daughters' perspectives.

Research Approach: Empirical phenomenologic.

Setting: Sites in Indiana and Arizona.

Participants: 8 mothers and 1 of their adolescent daughters. The mothers were aged 37-46 years at the time of diagnosis, had stage 0-IV cancer, and had completed treatment 1-12 years earlier. Participants had one to four children ranging in age from 13-24 years at the time of the interview. Ages of the adolescent daughters at the time of diagnosis ranged from 10-15 years with an average of 13.5 years.

Methodologic Approach: An open-ended, audiotaped interview was conducted with each participant.

Findings: Six major theme categories were found: (a) a battle to be fought on many fronts—what is at stake if the battle is lost, (b) I tried to tell her, (c) standout moments in our family's cancer journey, (d) mobilizing to protect self while preserving parenting, (e) voices of fear, and (f) after treatment is over, you are not done.

Conclusions: Mothers set a high priority on parenting and experienced difficulty in setting priorities to meet their own needs and those of their families, including those of their adolescent daughters. Mothers need assistance learning ways to help their daughters through the breast cancer experience, particularly related to maintaining their relationship and communicating.

Interpretation: Mothers should be given assistance with strategies for realizing their own needs and finding positive ways to deal with the needs of their families. Nurses can play an integral part of this development.

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