Meanings of Breast Cancer Survivorship Among Members of Ethnically-Identified Support Groups

K. E. Dyer, J. Coreil


Research on both cancer survivorship and support needs has been limited in its attention to survivors from culturally-diverse communities.  This study examined the perspectives of members and leaders of ethnically-identified breast cancer support groups regarding the meanings and expectations attached to survivorship.  Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 38 African American and Latina survivors in Central Florida.  Participant narratives invoked themes of spiritual renewal and deepening religious faith, and deemphasized individual responsibility for personal change.  Participants emphasized the importance of shared cultural identity in shaping the survivor experience, and some Latina women drew parallels between survivorship and the challenges of migration to a new country.  An unwavering display of optimism was held to be paramount.  These themes are interpreted within the framework of the interplay between dominant societal discourses of survivorship and locally-constructed meanings.  Findings underscore the importance for healthcare providers to be cognizant and respectful of diverse perspectives on illness.


Cancer; survivorship; ethnicity; illness narratives; support groups

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