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Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst: the lived experiences of women undergoing ovarian cancer surgery

Authors

  • L. SEIBAEK RN, MHH, PHD STUDENT,

    Corresponding author
    1. Research Unit of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus
      Lene Seibaek, Vidjekaer 12, 8660 Skanderborg, Denmark (e-mail: Leneseib@rm.dk).
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  • L.K. PETERSEN DMSC, CONSULTANT,

    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus
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  • J. BLAAKAER DMSC, PROFESSOR,

    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus
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  • L. HOUNSGAARD RN, PHD, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR

    1. Research Unit of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
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Lene Seibaek, Vidjekaer 12, 8660 Skanderborg, Denmark (e-mail: Leneseib@rm.dk).

Abstract

SEIBAEK L., PETERSEN L.K., BLAAKAER J. & HOUNSGAARD L. (2012) European Journal of Cancer Care21, 360–371

Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst: the lived experiences of women undergoing ovarian cancer surgery

In this study, the lived experiences of women undergoing ovarian cancer surgery were explored, aiming to provide a patient perspective on being newly diagnosed and starting treatment for ovarian cancer. The study period ran from the first visit in the outpatient clinic, till 8 weeks later, when the women had either begun chemotherapy or completed their recovery. Ten women participated in two qualitative research interviews each, before and after surgery. By applying a phenomenological-hermeneutic text interpretation methodology, the findings were systematically identified, put into meaning-structures, interpreted and discussed. This process constituted the theme: ‘Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst’. Final diagnostics and treatment start were extensive life events, where life itself was threatened, although hope and will were present. The women intuitively prepared themselves for the diagnosis and treatment. However, the ability to prepare was influenced by personal lifestyle, social conditions, coping strategies, and experiences of hope. The ability to prepare could be strengthened by providing adjusted information, psychosocial support and physical optimisation during the perioperative period. By offering targeted family counselling and taking good care of the women's general health and well-being, hope could be sustained and early cancer rehabilitation initiated.

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