Experience of Taiwanese Mothers of Children Completing Cancer Treatments

Friday, 25 July 2014: 2:10 PM

Li-Min Wu, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Chin-Mi Chen, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan
Joan E. Haase, PhD, RN, FAAN
Science of Clinical Care Department, School of Nursing, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN

Background: More than 60% of childhood cancer survivors have at least one long-term treatment side effect; over 30% experience moderate to severe delayed effects. Most parents have lingering concern about their child’s health, especially perseveration of uncertainty and anxieties about the possibility of cancer relapse, however, most studies have focused on parents’ experiences during the course of treatment. Information about the crucial post-treatment period is lacking.

Purpose: In this presentation we describe the essential structure of the lived experience of mothers in Taiwan caring for their child after cancer treatments.

Methods: A phenomenology approach was used.  The sample of 10 mothers of children ages 13-20 who had completed cancer treatments within the past 24 months consented to participate and were interviewed in a pediatric setting. Data were generated using open-ended questions about their experiences of life following treatments. Data were transcribed and analyzed using Giorgi's four-step procedures to derive the essential structure caring for a child post-cancer treatment. Credibility strategies included a systematic approach to data collection, analysis, and management using audit trail.

Results: Two theme categories were found. Living under the Cloud of Relapse included the sub-themes: Cancer Relapse is the Sword of Damocles, Vigilance Is a Way of Life, and Maintaining a Good Healthy Lifestyle. Changing to Face the Future included sub-themes: Becoming My Child’s Healthcare Provider, Adjusting Expectations, and Moving Forward by Making Family Adjustments.

Conclusion: Mothers never stop worrying about their child’s cancer returning, but they understand the need to move forward and face the future. They attempt to return to normalcy, to accept the consequences of the treatments, and to compromise dreams with reality. After treatments, mothers of children need continued support to understand the symptoms and signs of relapse, manage uncertainty, and adjust to a new normal for the family.