Amazon heart: an exploration of the role of challenge events in personal growth after breast cancer

J Psychosoc Oncol. 2009;27(1):119-35. doi: 10.1080/07347330802616084.


High-profile events where in response to the experience of breast cancer women take on adventure activities to raise awareness and/or funds for breast cancer are increasing. These activities offer physical and psychological challenges within a peer support group setting. We investigated the experiences of 21 breast cancer survivors who participated in a 7-day breast cancer awareness motorcycle ride. Assessments included a qualitative pre/postinterview, solicited diary, pre-6-month follow-up survey. Measures included satisfaction with life, distress, happiness, global well being, meaning in life. Motivators were a desire for peer support, to promote breast cancer awareness, enjoyment, and personal growth. The ride incorporated physical and emotional challenge. A positive peer support experience led to feelings of inner peace, accomplishment, self-learning, a positive perspective, and improved social support. For a minority of women peer support or recreational expectations were not met resulting in negative feelings. No significant changes were observed over time in adjustment measures. Adventure events where women undertake emotional and physical challenge in an environment of group peer support provide opportunity for personal growth. In this context, peer support may provide the catalyst for the experience to become transformational and so is critical to generating positive outcomes. Realistic expectations of the ride are also influential.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Australia
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Happiness
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Life Change Events*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Motorcycles
  • Peer Group
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Self Concept
  • Self Disclosure
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Survivors / psychology