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When Mom Has Breast Cancer: Adolescent Daughters' Experiences of Being Parented

Deborah Stiffler
Brooke Barada
Barbara Hosei
Joan Haase
ONF 2008, 35(6), 933-940 DOI: 10.1188/08.ONF.933-940

Purpose/Objectives: To examine the experiences of being parented when mothers are diagnosed and treated for breast cancer from the perspectives of adolescent daughters.

Research Approach: Empirical phenomenologic.

Setting: Participants were recruited from sites in Indiana and Arizona.

Participants: Eight adolescent daughters whose mothers had been diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer. Ages of the adolescent daughters at the time of diagnosis ranged from 10-15, with an average age of 13.5 years. Ages at the time of the interview ranged from 13-24 years.

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

Findings: 8 major themes were found: A World Turned Upside Down, Stop the Intrusion—Need to Get Away—Reluctant to Leave, Mom Can't Die, A Hole Where Mom Used to Be, Filling in the Hole Where Mom Used to Be, Being There for Mom—Managing Mom, Managing My Reactions—Being Selfish or Difficult, and Guarded Relief.

Conclusions: The daughters were struggling with changes going on in their lives. They found themselves in reversed roles with their mothers and felt conflicted between meeting their mothers' needs and their own. Daughters required help in communicating their needs to their mothers and others.

Interpretation: Nurses can assist adolescent daughters of mothers with breast cancer to find useful information, discuss effective ways of communicating, and facilitate the use of positive coping mechanisms.

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