Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 907–916 | Cite as

Labeled as lucky: contradictions between what women and healthcare professionals experience regarding the need for help after the early stages of gynecological cancer

  • Lise Bjerrum ThistedEmail author
  • Vibeke Zoffmann
  • Mette Linnet Olesen
Original Article



To explore how participants perceived a nurse-led, person-centered intervention, Guided Self-Determination Gynecological Cancer (GSD-GYN-C) and how participants felt it influenced the challenges they faced and their rehabilitation after gynecological cancer surgery.


Participants were invited from a previously conducted randomized trial where GSD-GYN-C improved physical quality of life in the intervention group. Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted, transcribed, and analyzed using thematic analysis.


Three central themes were identified: (1) “labeled as the lucky ones,” which describes a contrast between the women’s perceived problems and the healthcare professionals’ tendency to stress their luck in being treated early and cured with no particular problems in sight, leading to an unintended delay in their rehabilitation process; (2) “personal reflections pave the way for change,” which shows how new problem-solving skills were mobilized when reflection sheets and dialogue on GSD-GYN-C provided new insight into their situation and the feeling of being taken seriously; and (3) “emerging relational competence,” which describes the new skills the women developed in interacting with family, friends, colleagues, and healthcare professionals.


As a supplement to usual care, GSD-GYN-C remedied a tendency among healthcare professionals to underestimate problems in the early stages of gynecological cancer, and GSD-GYN-C involved the women in their rehabilitation process characterized by active problem-solving in relationships with other people.


Gynecological cancer Rehabilitation Nurse-led intervention Guided self-determination Empowerment Self-management 



The authors would like to thank the women and nurses who took part in the project including Mette Gotthardsen for assisting with interviews. We appreciate the Oncology Ward at Finsen Centre, Rigshospitalet Copenhagen University Hospital, for contributing with workhours and financing the English translation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RigshospitaletUniversity Hospital of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Unit of Cancer Rehabilitation, Clinic of Oncology, Department 9601Finsen CentreCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.Department 7821Research Unit for Womens and Childrens HealthCopenhagenDenmark
  4. 4.Department of Public HealthUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  5. 5.Department of GynecologyCopenhagenDenmark

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