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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cancer as interruption : exploring the experiences of adolescents who have completed treatment for cancer Johnson, Andrea Kristina


This dissertation provides an interpretive exploration of the experiences of adolescents who have recently completed treatment for cancer. As greater number of adolescents and young adults survive a diagnosis of cancer, their cancer survivorship experiences have become a dominant site of investigation. The conceptualization of cancer survivorship is broad and often encompasses a continuum that begins at the time of treatment completion and extends to years following a cancer diagnosis. The focus of this study is on a phase within this trajectory referred to within this dissertation as posttreatment: a period of time 0-18 months following the cessation of cancer treatment. Posttreatment as a period of time is often invisible and not well understood by patients, their families, or oncology clinicians caring for them. This research was designed to deepen understanding of adolescents’ experiences of posttreatment beyond how they are currently constituted in extant research. Using applied hermeneutics as a methodological approach, and specifically Gadamer’s dialogical philosophy of hermeneutics, data were generated with thirteen Canadian youth interviewed who had been diagnosed with a variety of cancers and who had completed treatment prior to 18 months from their study participation. The study findings encourage a move away from the essentialized nature that currently conceptualizes posttreatment and offers different ways to understand posttreatment experiences as lived by adolescents. Many of the participants experienced posttreatment as a dynamic and displacing period of time. Specifically, this research suggests that posttreatment is also experienced as embodied, as a liminal space, and a time of shifting relational connectedness for adolescents. By illuminating these diverse and different aspects to posttreatment, this research demonstrates that this period of time is rich in meaning and has many aspects to be understood with new encounters with this topic.

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