Struggling to gain meaning: living with the uncertainty of breast cancer

ANS Adv Nurs Sci. 1996 Mar;18(3):59-76. doi: 10.1097/00012272-199603000-00007.


Uncertainty is a common experience for women living with breast cancer, particularly when treatment cannot assure disease cure. The study described in this article sought to provide insight into uncertainty experiences for women living with breast cancer. Hermeneutic phenomenology and photographic hermeneutics were used to describe and interpret uncertainty for nine women between 2 and 6 years posttreatment for breast cancer. Data were collected using interviews and interpretations of photographs. Five themes of uncertainty among women were uncovered. Major study findings included support for a reconceptualization of Mishel's Uncertainty in Illness Theory and the explication of growth-producing aspects of uncertainty.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Breast Neoplasms / nursing
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Photography
  • Self Concept
  • Sick Role
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires