Among the country’s 25 largest cities, the breast cancer mortality disparity is highest in Memphis, Tennessee, where African American women are twice as likely to die from breast cancer as White women. This qualitative study of African-American breast cancer survivors explores experiences during and post treatment that contributed to their beating the high odds of mortality. Using a semi-structured interview guide, a focus group session was held in 2012 with 10 breast cancer survivors. Thematic analysis and a deductive a priori template of codes were used to analyze the data. Five main themes were identified: family history, breast/body awareness and preparedness to manage a breast cancer event, diagnosis experience and reaction to the diagnosis, family reactions, and impact on life. Prayer and family support were central to coping, and survivors voiced a cultural acceptance of racial disparities in health outcomes. They reported lack of provider sensitivity regarding pain, financial difficulties, negative responses from family/friends, and resiliency strategies for coping with physical and mental limitations. Our research suggested that a patient-centered approach of demystifying breast cancer (both in patient-provider communication and in community settings) would impact how women cope with breast cancer and respond to information about its diagnosis.
White-Means, S., Rice, M., Dapremont, J., Davis, B., & Martin, J. (2015). African American women: Surviving breast cancer mortality against the highest odds. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13010006