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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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The meaning of having to live with cancer in old age

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Little is known about how older people with cancer experience their life situation. To increase the understanding of how illness is experienced in older people with cancer, the aim of this study was to investigate the meaning of living with cancer in old age. The hermeneutic phenomenological method as described by van Manen and referred to as 'phenomenology of praxis' was used. Ten persons (seven women and three men) aged 75 and over, who had a diagnosis of cancer and who had just completed cancer treatment, were interviewed in their own homes. The analysis revealed a life world affected to varying degrees by the cancer disease. The lived experiences across the interviews were revealed in four overarching essential themes: transition into a more or less disintegrated existence, sudden awareness of the finiteness of life, redefinition of one's role in life for good and for bad, meeting disease and illness. To provide individual support and appropriate care to older people with cancer it is important for health care professionals to identify and take care of disabilities and to support the reorientation in the disintegrated life situation. It is also important to have preparedness to meet the old person's thoughts about death. Thus, it is important to encourage the old person to describe her/his illness experience to increase understanding about what is meaningful for her/him.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Volume13
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)399-408
Number of pages10
ISSN0961-5423
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2004

ID: 32349548