Goals set in the land of the living/dying: a longitudinal study of patients living with advanced cancer

Death Stud. 2012 Apr;36(4):360-90. doi: 10.1080/07481187.2011.553324.


A longitudinal qualitative research study was undertaken to provide an understanding of a prolonged experience of advanced cancer, as seen through the eyes of dying individuals. Using a variant of the grounded theory method, the authors theoretically sampled, from outpatient clinics in a large comprehensive cancer treatment center, 27 patients with either advanced lung or gastrointestinal cancer who had an expected survival of up to 2 years. The authors conducted a total of 54 interviews with these patients to learn of their experience of advanced cancer. The authors represent their experience with the core category: striving to grow in the land of the living/dying, symbolizing their sense of finding themselves in a borderland between life and death where their efforts focused on 3 common goals. controlling dying, valuing life in the present, and creating a living legacy. They provide a longitudinal account of how these goals were addressed throughout the illness trajectory and discuss the theoretical and clinical implications of this understanding for the experience of dying from advanced cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Altruism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antineoplastic Agents