What does the term ‘survivor’ mean to individuals diagnosed with a haematological malignancy? Findings from Australia
- First Online:
- 249 Downloads
The use of the word ‘survivor’ is now widely accepted in academic and clinical oncology culture. However, despite such prevalence, there is limited research exploring the meaning of the term survivor for the very individuals to which the term is applied. The article provides insights on the term survivor from a sub-set of findings taken from a Queensland study exploring the experience of survivorship for individuals diagnosed with a haematological malignancy.
The qualitative study involved in-depth interviews with 50 individuals diagnosed with a haematological malignancy. The interviews were transcribed verbatim, coded and then analysed thematically.
The results indicated that the majority of participants actively disliked the term and did not embrace the notion of survivor in their post-diagnosis identity. Only a small number actively embraced the term.
The word survivor had a multiplicity of meanings depending on the individual interpretation of the term.
Relevance of manuscript to inform research, policies and/or programmes
The clear message from the research is that the term survivor needs to be used with care and sensitivity. The strong recommendation is that caution should be used when applying the term to individuals diagnosed with a haematological malignancy. The naming of support groups and newsletters should be sensitive to the wide range of meanings that individuals bring to this term. Indeed, the findings indicate that many do not identify with the term and require a more appropriate language to respond to their supportive care needs.
KeywordsHaematological malignancies Survivorship Qualitative research Supportive care
- 5.Horning S (2008) Follow-up of adult cancer survivors: new paradigms for survivorship care planning. Hem/On ClinNth Am 22(2):201–10Google Scholar
- 8.Brearley S, Stamataki Z, Addington-Hall J, Foster C, Hodges L, Jarrett N, Richardson A, Scott I, Sharpe M, Stark D, Siller C, Ziegler L, Amir Z (2011) The physical and practical problems experienced by cancer survivors: a rapid review and synthesis of the literature. Eur J Oncol Nurs 15(3):204–212PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 9.Doyle N (2008) Cancer survivorship: evolutionary concept analysis. JOAN 62(4):499–509Google Scholar
- 22.Whittington E (2006) The man who redefined ‘survivor’… Fitzhugh Mullan, MD. CURE: can updates, res and educ 5(3): Special Survivors Issue: 16Google Scholar
- 24.McGrath P, Holewa H (2011) Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland, survivor report. International Program of Psycho-social Health Research, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
- 25.Holloway I (2008) A-Z of qualitative research in healthcare, 2nd edn. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- 26.Patton M (2002) Qualitative research and evaluation methods, 3rd edn. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
- 28.Seidman I (2006) Interviewing as qualitative research: Guide for researchers in Education and the Social Sciences, 3rd edn. Teachers College Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- 29.McGrath P, Hartigan B, Holewa H, Skaparis M (2011) ‘Chemo brain’: research findings indicate need for caution. AAJC 10(3):33–41Google Scholar
- 30.McGrath P, Hartigan B, Holewa H, Skarparis M (2011b) Returning to work after treatment for haematological cancer: findings from Australia. doi:10.1007/s00520-011-1298-2Google Scholar
- 32.Ehrenreich B (2001) Welcome to cancerland: a mammogram leads to a cult of Pink Kitsch. Harper Mag 43–53Google Scholar
- 34.Davies N (2009) Cancer survivorship: living with or beyond cancer. Cancer Nurs Pract 8(7):29–35Google Scholar
- 35.Rowland J, Bellizzi K (2008) Cancer survivors and survivorship research: a reflection on today's successes and tomorrow's challenges. Hem/Oncol Clin Nth Am 22(2):181–200Google Scholar