Hoping to reach a safe haven - Swedish families' lived experience when a family member is diagnosed with breast cancer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


PURPOSE: When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, it affects all family members. Therefore, the aim of this study was to elucidate family members lived experience when a family member is diagnosed with breast cancer.

METHOD: The study had a hermeneutic phenomenological design including individual conversational interviews conducted face-to-face with six women with breast cancer and their family members at two different points of time, in order to elucidate families' lived experience, both as individuals and as a unit, from each family member's perspective.

RESULTS: Living as a family in the presence of breast cancer is a challenging endeavour to regain an ordinary, safe life, hoping to reach a safe haven. The families felt that life as they knew it had disappeared and they were fumbling in the dark, trying to find support and guidance on their path to ordinary life. The family members were pursuing balance by attempting to keep the family together and maintaining a positive attitude while battling against fear and treatment-related side effects. Finally, the families were struggling with guilt and inadequacy, due to their difficulties in communicating the emotional distress that the illness brought upon them, at the same time as they felt abandoned by the healthcare professionals.

CONCLUSIONS: Families experience an unmet need of information and support, which implies that healthcare professionals may want to acknowledge and include the family already at the time of diagnosis in order to help them endure and cope with the distressing experience and thus increase their wellbeing.


External organisations
  • Malmö University
  • Skåne University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Health Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-58
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean journal of oncology nursing : the official journal of European Oncology Nursing Society
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes