An earlier study revealed that Mainland Chinese women suffered a relatively low health-related quality of life during the first three months after being diagnosed with cervical cancer. This merited conducting a qualitative study to explore their experiences during this period.
To describe the experiences of Chinese women suffering from cervical cancer in the first three months following diagnosis.
A descriptive phenomenological method was used. Fourteen participants were interviewed at the time of diagnosis and ten were re-interviewed three months later. The number of interviews conducted was determined by data saturation.
Five themes were discerned: dealing with the emotional chaos down to the hassles caused by the disease and its treatment; handling the diagnosis and the disease in my own way and in accordance with Chinese culture; instinctively depending on my partner and experiencing improved relationships within the family but no sexual life; sharing information and support with fellow patients but hiding the diagnosis from friends and acquaintances; returning to previous existence wanting to be treated as normal but with changed attitudes to life.
Conclusions:The lived experience was seen as a sudden life transition triggered by receiving the diagnosis. Cultural and societal contexts influenced patient adaptation to the situation.
Implications for practice: Family members and fellow patients could be mobilized to help patients since their support was highly valued. Regarding their hope for an ordinary life, patients could benefit from the relief of side effects and information, for instance, on how to resume sexual activity.