Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Wilson, Sarah A.

Second Advisor

Lough, Mary Ann

Third Advisor

Bunkers, Sandra S.


The purpose of this study, guided by Parse's humanbecoming theory and the descriptive-exploratory design, was to uncover the meaning of quality of life as a lived experience for young African American women living with breast cancer. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 15 to 54 (American Cancer Society [ACS], 2008 & Young Survivors Coalition, 2008). Approximately 1,300 women age 40 or less will die from this disease (ACS, 2008). As a vulnerable population, young African American women experience the greatest breast cancer burden in the United States, experience the highest incidence, and have the poorest outcomes from breast cancer (ACS, 2008; National Cancer Institute, 2007). Currently, no peer-reviewed research exists regarding quality of life and young African American women. In this study, participants discussed changes in their day-to-day activities, methods of treatment, side effects, interaction with others, and living a fulfilling life.Through dwelling with the descriptions of three themes of shared meaning, the researcher generated concepts to form the unified description of the experience of quality of life for the participants. The researcher found that quality of life is contemplating challenging times, while moving closer to and away from others in living with opportunities and restrictions, while fashioning a fulfilling life amid torment. This research provides new knowledge for nursing and adds to the quality of life literature an understanding of a universal lived experience. The findings involve the participant's hopes, dreams, and envisioning of the not-yet, as well as their participation in the day-to-day struggle of living with the now and the not-yet all-at-once when a life threatening disease and relationships pose challenges. This research expands Parse's theory of humanbecoming in relation to quality of life. Recommendations for further research include additional research with young African American women related to quality of life and the unified description identified in this study. Conclusions and recommendations for clinical practice, academia, and future research are offered.



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