Early adulthood uprooted: transitoriness in young women with breast cancer

Zumstein-Shaha, Maya; Bauer-Wu, Susan (2009). Early adulthood uprooted: transitoriness in young women with breast cancer Cancer Nursing, 32(3), pp. 246-255. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins 10.1097/NCC.0b013e31819b5b2e

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Young women with breast cancer face a more aggressive disease and lower survival rate compared with those who are older, thereby confronting the potential finitude of life or transitoriness at a time when they are establishing their careers, developing partnerships, and building families. Little is known about the perspectives of young women with breast cancer in how they consider issues of their own mortality. Patients with stage I to III breast cancer aged 39 years and younger who were diagnosed within the last year (N = 16) were included in this qualitative study, which was a secondary analysis of texts written during an expressive writing intervention. Thematic analysis was done by 2 researchers, who reached consensus in coding and theme identification. Nine of the 16 participants (56%) wrote about their mortality (transitoriness). Three themes (being remembered, landscape of emotions and perspectives, and omnipresence of life's finitude) and 10 subthemes were identified from the rich narrative texts. Despite early-stage diagnosis and the beginning phases of adulthood, young women with breast cancer contemplate their mortality and its potential repercussions on their loved ones and their careers. Oncology professionals need to be sensitive to these concerns and provide opportunities for discussion and/or referrals for their young patients as they grapple with such potentially overwhelming issues.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Health Professions
School of Health Professions > Nursing


Zumstein-Shaha, Maya0000-0003-4253-3123 and
Bauer-Wu, Susan




1538-9804 (Electronic) 0162-220X (Linking)


Lippincott Williams and Wilkins




Maya Zumstein-Shaha

Date Deposited:

29 Mar 2021 14:04

Last Modified:

22 May 2023 14:35

Publisher DOI:


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PubMed ID:


Additional Information:

Notes: Shaha, Maya Bauer-Wu, Susan eng Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't 2009/03/20 09:00 Cancer Nurs. 2009 May-Jun;32(3):246-55. 1538-9804 (Electronic) Journal Article Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't Date: 2009

Uncontrolled Keywords:

*Adaptation, Psychological Adult/*psychology Age Factors *Attitude to Death *Attitude to Health Boston Breast Neoplasms/*psychology Existentialism/psychology Fear Female Funeral Rites/psychology Grief Human Development Humans Interpersonal Relations *Life Change Events Mothers/psychology Nursing Methodology Research Qualitative Research Role Writing





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