Date of Award

11-5-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Nursing

Department

Nursing

Abstract

With the growing number of survivors of childhood cancer in the United States, it has been essential for research to look more closely at the challenges these “children” and their families face later in life as they live to adulthood. While much has been written about childhood cancer survivors and their parents independently, there are unique struggles that a mother and a childhood cancer survivor face as a dyad. A diagnosis of cancer falling on one’s child is undoubtedly a life altering event. Examining the dyadic relationship over time offers a unique perspective to understanding the parenting experience with a child whose fate is uncertain. Utilizing the methodology of Narrative Inquiry, this research explored the bonds the mother has with her child before he or she is diagnosed with cancer, the relationship during treatment, and the subsequent relationship when the child has entered survivorship. Most specifically, the research explored the attachment of the mother to her child as it relates to the Caregiving System. An initial sample of 4 mothers representing a child from each birth order category (youngest child, middle child, oldest child and only child) was chosen. Based upon the results of the interviews the sample was increased in rounds of 3 for saturation to a sample of 13. The participants were interviewed one time. The interviews were analyzed through thematic analysis and 4 core themes were identified. A metastory was then compiled. The research shows activation of the Caregiving Behavioral Response System as it relates as a reciprocal to Attachment Theory. The stories add to what is known about how the relationship between a mother and her child evolves during the treatment of Hodgkin’s disease into survivorship.

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