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Women with ovarian cancer during childbearing years felt that they looked normal, but “in [their] skin, [they were] different”

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QUESTION: What is the experience of women living with ovarian cancer during their childbearing years?


Hermeneutic phenomenology.


Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, USA.


5 women who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer 1–10 years before the study were recruited from a private practice.


Each woman participated in 3–4 indepth interviews, which lasted 60–90 minutes and continued until both the researcher and participant agreed that there was no more to say. Thematic analysis was guided by Van Manen's method. To ensure trustworthiness of findings, the researchers kept reflective journals, checked the analyses with participants, and resolved differences in interpretation of meaning through discussion.

Main findings

The complexity of the experience of living with cancer during the childbearing years was revealed in 12 themes. Serendipitous diagnosis of ovarian cancer occurred in the context of infertility workups, painful periods, or prenatal care. Women had to be persistent in obtaining appointments and second opinions …

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  • Source of funding: no external funding.

  • For correspondence: Dr K M Schaefer, Temple University, Department of Nursing, 3307 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA. Fax +1 215 707 1599.