Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 1113–1122 | Cite as

Who is a survivor? Perceptions from individuals who experienced pediatric cancer and their primary support persons

  • Monica L. Molinaro
  • Paula C. Fletcher
Original Article



The purpose of this research was to examine the lived experiences of individuals who had cancer as children, as well as lived experiences of their current primary support persons.


Based on van Manen’s “new” interpretive phenomenology, interviews were conducted with ten pediatric cancer survivors and nine of their support persons to gain a more holistic understanding of the pediatric cancer experiences of children and their families.


Four themes emerged from the data; however, only the topic of the use of the term “survivor” and identification with the term will be discussed. All participants in the study described their personal definition of the term survivor and what it meant to be a survivor. Additionally, all individuals in the study discussed the concept of being a survivor and if they would consider themselves, or their loved ones, to be “survivors.”


The results of this study provide health care professionals, family members, and individuals fundraising or advocating for cancer causes with insights on how the term survivor may be interpreted. This study may provide insight to individuals who had cancer as children, in showing that their personal perspective shapes their identity; although “survivor” is common cancer vernacular, individuals can choose not to identify with their illness experiences.


Pediatric cancer Pediatric cancer survivor Pediatric cancer survivorship Perceptions of pediatric cancer survivorship Primary support persons 



This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

M. Molinaro declares that she has no conflict of interest. P. Fletcher declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health and Rehabilitation SciencesThe University of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Kinesiology and Physical EducationWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada

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