Safeguarding the Children: The Cancer Journey of Young Mothers

Judith T. Strickland

Carla Foley Wells

Caroline Porr

mothers with cancer, grounded theory, psychological coping skills
ONF 2015, 42(5), 534-541. DOI: 10.1188/15.ONF.534-541

Purpose/Objectives: To investigate how young mothers manage their maternal roles and responsibilities during their journey as patients with cancer.

Research Approach: Semistructured face-to-face interviews and analysis.

Setting: Rural and urban communities in eastern Canada.

Participants: 18 mothers aged 27–45 years when diagnosed and who were concluding or had concluded treatment for breast or non-ovarian reproductive cancer.

Methodologic Approach: Glaserian Grounded Theory.

Findings: During the various phases of the cancer journey, mothers focus their efforts on protecting their children from psychological harm. Safeguarding the Children is the explanatory model generated from the interview data that consists of four strategies—customizing exposure, reducing disruption to family life, finding new ways to be close, and increasing vigilance—which mothers implement to protect their children.

Conclusions: Young mothers with cancer manage their maternal roles and responsibilities by strategizing how they can mitigate threats to their children’s psychological well-being.

Interpretation: Nurses are ideally suited to address holistic needs and concerns of women with cancer who are mothers. Safeguarding the Children, as an explanatory model for practice, may equip oncology nurses with requisite knowledge and understanding to better anticipate resource, counseling, support, and referral needs of young mothers during their cancer journey.

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