School for Social Work
Chemotherapy is a concept that strikes a chord inside many people, conjuring images of nausea, hair loss, and pain. It is synonymous with cancer. The impact of undergoing treatment for a life-threatening diagnosis like cancer can have both seen and unseen impacts on the person, their families, and their loved ones. The effects can reverberate through a person's life, affecting not only their health status, but also their relationships, careers, sense of self, worldview, and spirituality. This study looks more closely at the experiences of women who have undergone chemotherapy for the treatment of breast cancer and considers the full range of experiences to better understand the effects it has on people's lives. Specifically, the purpose of this study is to lay the groundwork for the understanding of the impact of chemotherapy on breast cancer survivors. Through 11 one-to-one interviews with women who have been treated with chemotherapy for breast cancer, this study will focus in-depth on what the experience of chemotherapy was like for these women and how it changed their lives. Major findings in this study include significant experiences of positive life changes in the realms of sense of self, relationships, and spirituality following chemotherapy. This study can be broadened to include people undergoing many different invasive treatment procedures and affect how mental health professionals interact with and treat these populations.
Willson, Amy Tindall, ""If I told you what was going to happen, you wouldn't do it" : the breast cancer survivor's experience of chemotherapy" (2008). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.