International Journal of Gerontology
Lived Experiences in the Illness Trajectory for Elderly Patients with Ovarian Cancer in Taiwan: A Phenomenological Study
Supplementary MaterialNo data
Background: Elderly patients with ovarian cancer have complex emotional responses to the cancer diagnosis and treatment such as worry about performing daily routines. As cancer treatment progress, these patients need support from family, community, and health care professionals to cope with physical and psychological symptoms and impairments.
Methods: Giorgi's phenomenological methodology was employed to explore the essence for elderly patients' lived experiences amid the illness trajectory of ovarian cancer.
Results: Fifteen interviews were conducted. Four themes and 10 subthemes emerged from the verbatim transcripts: (1) hopelessness regarding loss of health: treatment side effects exceed expectations, worries about loss of energy hindering the cancer battle, and interruption of daily activities and interpersonal relationships; (2) endeavoring to fight for life: optimism and difficulty in establishing a new perspective on life, and cooperation with prescribed treatment; (3) managing uncertainty: realizing the impermanence of life and seizing the moment, self-reflection on the meaning of life, and attempting to regain physical health; and (4) learning to face early death: perceiving the upcoming end of life, and seeking peace of mind for lasting love.
Conclusion: The low cure rate of ovarian cancer forces elderly patients to face the possibility of death. Medical teams must provide urgent and long-term medical care and value the medical autonomy of elderly patients with ovarian cancer to offer timely professional opinions and adequate care. Medical professionals should help patients develop adjustment strategies and establish a support system by integrating social resources for the holistic well-being of the patient.