Title. A caring relationship with people who have cancer.
Aim. This paper is a report of a study conducted to elucidate the meaning of a caring relationship with people with cancer.
Background. A caring relationship becomes the most important focus of caregiving when treatment of the body has reached the limits where cure is no longer expected. Caring as perceived by people with cancer involves nurses having professional attitudes and skills in order to provide good care, including emotional and practical support.
Methods. A phenomenological hermeneutic approach influenced by Ricoeur was used. Eight nurses working in an oncology unit in Iran were interviewed in 2007 about their experiences of caring relationships with people who have cancer.
Findings. The findings were interpreted as getting involved in a mutual/demanding close relationship. Closeness demanded nurses to be present, to listen to patients, and to be compassionate. Closeness was also mutual and characterized both caregiving and receiving new insights into values in the nurses’ own lives. The close relationship was at times frustrating when they were faced with situations that they could not handle and were out of their control.
Conclusion. Closeness is an important foundation for caring, and acquires a special dimension in the care of people with cancer and their relatives. It derives from the personal and professional experiences of nurses in their own life stories. Nursing education should include a reflective approach in order to develop caring skills in oncology nursing that are not merely attuned to medical care.