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Keywords:

  • survivorship;
  • phenomenology;
  • cancer

Today, more people are surviving cancer as a result of improved treatment and early diagnosis. In Australia, the 5-year survival rate for persons diagnosed with cancer is now approaching 50%. Although there is a growing population of cancer survivors, little is known about what surviving entails. Traditionally, a survivor has been defined as one who has been disease-free for more than 5 years. However, this definition does not take into account the experience nor the process of survival and the aim of this article is to document the process of surviving cancer as reflected in the experiences of cancer survivors. Using a method of hermeneutic phenomenology (as described by van Manen), the study draws on the stories of six women, who by their definition, are surviving cancer. A discussion of themes has been structured according to the everyday experiences of living in a body and living in time. The women describe a survival process that includes: ‘feeling whole again’; ‘the body as the house of suspicion’; ‘the future in question’; ‘changes in time’; ‘lucky to be alive’; and ‘sharing the journey’.