Poster Presentation FCIC Survivorship Conference 2013

Analysing the blog narratives of a cohort of breast cancer survivors provides a new framework for a richer understanding of the lived experience of cancer survivorship (#46)

Marie F. Ennis 1
  1. Europa Donna Ireland, The Irish Breast Cancer Campaign, Ireland

Background: Personal narratives shared through social media are an area of rapid development in communication among breast cancer survivors. 1 Many are turning to blogs (internet weblogs) to tell their stories. These blog narratives provide a framework for a richer understanding of the lived experience of cancer survivorship.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to propose a new framework for understanding the issues faced by breast cancer survivors after treatment and to explore how they integrate the cancer experience into their lives over the long term.

Methods: (1) a qualitative analysis of the overarching themes of 25 blogs written by breast cancer survivors at various stages of the survivorship trajectory and (2) a literature review were undertaken.

Results: While an analysis of blog narratives convey common themes related to physical, psychosocial and emotional issues, the uniqueness of each blog demonstrated that the survival trajectory is a dynamic concept, the challenges of which can vary at different life stages and times. This study extends previous findings that cancer is not just a single event with a defined end, but an evolutionary journey with short and long-term challenges.2 A cancer diagnosis initiates a survival trajectory that extends over the remainder of life, regardless of life expectancy. 3

Conclusions: If healthcare professionals are to adequately prepare patients for the transition to survivorship, they must have a deeper understanding of the survivorship experience. Cancer survivors' own narratives open up the lived experience of survivorship, providing a rich framework for examining the effects of cancer at various life stages throughout the remainder of a person's life. Furthermore, the narratives have the potential to inform interventions for psycho-social support to aid survivors in their adjustment to life after cancer. Future research with a larger and more diverse sample of cancer survivors is recommended.

  1. Chou WY, Hunt Y, Folkers A, et al. Cancer survivorship in the age of YouTube and social media: a narrative analysis. J Med Internet Res. 2011;13:e7.
  2. Sherman DW, Rosedale M, Haber J. Reclaiming life on one's own terms: a grounded theory study of the process of breast cancer survivorship. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2012;39(3):E258-68.
  3. Zebrack BJ. Cancer survivor identity and quality of life. Cancer Pract. 2000;8(5):238-42.