"Learning to live with it": Coping with the transition to cancer survivorship in older adults

  • Towsley G
  • Beck S
  • Watkins J
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This article explores the coping experiences of elderly cancer survivors in the Intermountain West. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 55 older adult cancer survivors at 1 and 3 months following the last radiation or chemotherapy treatment. All interviews were fully transcribed and topic-coded for emergent themes. The coping process was characterized by the core theme of "Learning to Live WITH it (cancer)." The process begins when the survivor enters the cancer experience with prior life experiences and ends with a state where cancer survivors potentially achieve new balance or growth. The coping process is dynamic and is affected by the survivor's previous life experience, attitudes and sense of self, positive or negative intervening factors, and coping strategies. The 'Learning to live with it' model shows how survivors draw upon various strategies, attitudes and prior life experiences to integrate the cancer diagnosis into their lives. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Aging
  • Cancer survivorship
  • Coping
  • Neoplasm
  • Older adults

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  • Gail L. Towsley

  • Susan L. Beck

  • John F. Watkins

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