The impact of breast cancer on mother-child relationships in Korea
Sue Kim ; Yun Hee Ko ; Eun Young Jun
Psycho-Oncology, Vol.21(6) : 640~646, 2012
OBJECTIVE: For families with dependent children, the situational crisis of a cancer diagnosis may compound the developmental task of parenting. This study aimed to explore the impact of breast cancer on Korean mothers and their children following diagnosis.
METHODS: Korean women diagnosed with breast cancer at 50 years or younger more than a year ago were recruited by posting announcements at a breast cancer clinic and through referrals and snowball sampling. A one-time in-depth interview ranging from 60 to 90 min was conducted and data were transcribed verbatim for content analysis.
RESULTS: Five themes emerged from the data: (1) The delicate balance of being able to focus on self, which also was a conflicting factor in their relationship with children; (2) The continuing challenge of taking care of children, which was closely linked to supports, health condition, and cultural notions of parenting and lingering stigma; (3) The importance of informing children in a timely manner; (4) An overall shift in attitudes towards raising children as independent beings; and (5) Relinquishing and re-envisioning the future for their children and themselves.
CONCLUSIONS: Breast cancer brings new challenges in mother-child relationships with culturally framed issues. Findings can guide healthcare providers in giving relevant anticipatory guidance for women diagnosed with breast cancer and in considering family-focused psychosocial and behavioral interventions for families with breast cancer.