Memories of adult survivors of childhood cancer

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University of Alabama Libraries

Childhood cancer is a long and intense journey, with many physical and psychological reactions throughout. Childhood cancer survivors recount positive and negative memories about their cancer, including the importance of coping. Coping during childhood cancer has been shown to relate to quality of life after cancer. In this exploratory, qualitative study, we looked more in depth at adult childhood cancer survivors’ memories, specifically in relation to diagnosis, coping and life effects of cancer. Participants (n=27) were recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) and answered a demographic questionnaire and a qualitative survey containing questions about their memories of experiencing childhood cancer. For this study, the questions of interest were: 1: What are adult survivors of childhood cancer memories of initial reactions to cancer?; 2: What are adult survivors of childhood cancer memories of coping during cancer?; and 3: What are adult survivors of childhood cancer reflections of the effects of cancer on the person they are today? Text data were then analyzed using a thematic analysis. In the participants’ memories of diagnosis, some important themes emerged, such as a lack of understanding, psychological reactions, a diagnosis story, physical symptoms, and other’s reactions. Participants’ memories of coping also brought about many common themes, such as maintaining function, support, faith, distraction, and avoidance. Cancer also positively impacted their lives at present, such as being stronger and/or resilient, having a different life outlook and/or attitude, and motivation. These findings indicate that adult survivors of childhood cancer do have strong memories about their cancer diagnosis and coping during their cancer experience, as well as that cancer has an ongoing influence in their life post-recovery. Keywords: childhood cancer, coping, effects, memories, survivors

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Health sciences, Individual & family studies, Social sciences education