"I Knew What It Was": The Meaning of Delay in Seeking Breast Cancer Diagnosis

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While over the last decade the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer have been diagnosed during the early stages of the disease, which increases the chances of full recovery after proper treatment, there are those women diagnosed with advanced breast cancer who cannot be treated by surgery. Their chances for recovery are slim; their quality of life is poor and their life expectancy is significantly less than those in the first group. Most women diagnosed with inoperable breast cancer have gone to the doctor after a period in which they had noticed blatant physical signs and experienced symptoms of cancer. In this research 12 women with advanced breast cancer were asked to tell their life stories and to give a name or a title to their story.
The stories and titles analysis shows that they are divided into two groups – the 'Pendulum stories' and the 'summary stories'. This division categorized the two groups also by the survival mechanism each group is using in order to cope with a threat.
The women in the 'pendulum group' created a "false self" as their survival mechanism while the second group characterized by the 'summary stories', created a mechanism of "numbness" and "remote observation". Analyzing the life stories shows that both groups formed their survival strategy early in life.
When they noted symptoms of cancer, the interviewees activated their survival mechanisms as they felt threatened by the discovery of the suspicious symptoms. This mechanism leads them to the critical delay in their diagnosis.

Keywords: Advanced Breast Cancer, Narrative Analysis, Qualitative Research, Story Title Analysis
Stream: Education and Social Welfare
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

M.Sw Tamar Dryfuss

Social Worker, Social Service, Soroka University Medical Center
Beer Sheva, Israel

Lea Kacen

Affiliation not supplied

Julie Cwikel

Affiliation not supplied

Ref: I08P0726