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Keywords:

  • gynecologic cancer;
  • women's experience;
  • partners' experience

Purpose: To describe the experiences of Turkish women with gynecologic cancer and their partners.

Design and Methods: Qualitative research using a descriptive phenomenological approach.

Setting: Gynecologic oncology outpatient clinic of the Gulhane Military Medical Academy in Ankara, Turkey. Nineteen women with gynecologic cancer aged 43–70 years and 12 partners aged 46–73 years were recruited. Data were obtained through open-ended and in-depth, audio-taped interviews which lasted approximately 35–45 minutes each.

Findings: Seven themes emerged from the participants' description of their experience: (a) experiences during the diagnosis period; (b) experiences during the treatment period; (c) the effect of cancer on family life; (d) changes in daily life; (e) coping methods and support sources; (f) the meaning of illness; and (g) experiencing the illness as a woman.

Conclusions: Receiving the diagnosis of gynecologic cancer was remembered as a very dramatic experience. The women and partners reported many physical and psychosocial difficulties relating to the treatment period. Healthcare professionals must understand and recognize cancer patients' and their partners' experiences to provide appropriate holistic care.

Clinical Relevance: Nurses can only provide effective and comprehensive nursing care to gynecologic cancer patients and their families if they fully understand the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual experiences in their lives.