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J Pediatr Oncol Nurs. 2005 Sep-Oct;22(5):265-75.

Striving to survive: families' lived experiences when a child is diagnosed with cancer.

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  • 1Department of Nursing at Lund University, Lund, Sweden.


When a child is ill with cancer, this affects the whole family for long periods. The aim of this study was to elucidate the family's lived experience when a child in the family was diagnosed with cancer. A descriptive inductive design with a hermeneutic phenomenological approach including interviews with 17 families (parents, children, and siblings) was chosen. The families' lived experience was described as a 2-fold essential theme comprising "a broken life world" and an immediate "striving to survive." The families' secure everyday life disappeared and was replaced by fear, chaos, and loneliness. When striving to make the child and the family survive, family members strove to feel hope and have a positive focus, to gain control, and to feel close to other people. Phenomenological human science research can deepen the understanding of the meaning of being a family with a child who is ill with cancer and can help pediatric oncology staff become increasingly thoughtful, and thus better prepared to take action to diminish the chaos occurring in the family.

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