UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Women's experiences of radical surgery for gynecological cancer : a feminist phenomenological study Janyce, Dayna Gayle


It is recognized that radical surgery for gynecological cancer causes significant negative effects on women's body image, sexuality, and self-esteem. However, researchers are uncertain why women experience feelings of depression and negativity towards body image even two years after removal of the uterus due to cancer. To gain an understanding of specific factors which cause these prolonged negative feelings, information was sought on the subjective experiences of women following this radical surgery. The study's feminist theoretical framework gave direction to investigate women's subjective experiences through language. The phenomenological research method was chosen as it allowed the discovery of women's subjective experiences through analyzing their verbal perceptions. The women described their emotional and physical needs and experiences related to this surgery which included finding out about cancer, needing support from others, understanding the surgery, physical recovery, sexual needs, beliefs and feelings about cancer, and changes in body structure and function. The study's findings show that this surgery was an emotionally and physically traumatic experience. It was concluded that these women did not receive adequate professional emotional support and information about the effects of this surgery. It was also concluded that, although the women's perception of self-worth was enhanced by surviving this surgery, this perception was also significantly inhibited by the grieving process which intensified several months after surgery. The implications of the study's findings for nursing practice, education, and research were outlined.

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