Recurrence of ovarian cancer-living in limbo

Cancer Nurs. 2007 Jul-Aug;30(4):270-7. doi: 10.1097/01.NCC.0000281729.10362.3a.


Few studies have shed light on women's life situation after being informed of having recurrent ovarian cancer. The present study aimed to elucidate women's experiences of living with this knowledge. Interviews were conducted with 12 women who were undergoing or had just completed chemotherapy, 5 to 10 months after learning of the recurrence. Data were collected and analyzed based on a life world perspective using a descriptive phenomenological method. The women's experiences are described via 3 key constituents: being denied one's future while simultaneously hoping to be able to delay the cancer's advancement, feeling alienated from both oneself and one's surroundings, and being responsible. The key constituents were integrated into the structure "living in limbo." The women lived on the threshold to the unknown. They were preparing themselves both for a continued life and for death. "Living in limbo" can be described as a phase of a health-illness transition characterized by loneliness. The vulnerable position and existential struggle of these women should be focused upon in nursing. The sensitive dialogue is essential in these cases.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / nursing
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / psychology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / nursing
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Social Alienation
  • Social Responsibility
  • Sweden
  • Uncertainty*