Maternal Experiences of Parenting Young Children While Battling Breast Cancer in Taiwan

Jui-Chih Chin, Pi-Chen Chang, Miao-Hui Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Western mothers with breast cancer find themselves struggling with parenting responsibilities. Because parenting is culturally shaped, literature on ill mothers' experiences of parenting young children from a collectivist culture is limited.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine Taiwanese mothers' experiences of and cultural practices embedded in parenting young children while in treatment for breast cancer.

METHODS: Sixteen mothers with at least 1 child younger than 12 years were recruited from a breast cancer organization in Taiwan. Data were collected from November 2016 to June 2017 via a semistructured individual interview and analyzed using a content analysis technique.

RESULTS: Five themes, namely, "maternal limited disclosure, complementary with children's tacit knowledge," "the scar is no longer a scar but a symbol for intimate bonding," "issues of maternal absence for young children and school-aged children," "the power of 'We are a family'," and "to live a simple life and to live for one's self," elucidate how cultural beliefs and practices shape maternal parenting experiences during treatment of breast cancer.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings illustrate how Taiwanese mothers interpret their illness, contextualize illness-related messages in daily life, and maintain family ties while coping with breast cancer. The will to maintain the family's integrity, including the extended family, can empower mothers throughout the trajectory.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Ill mothers may benefit from nurses' guidance on daily routines and cultural practices that they can exploit to frame illness messages for their children. Maternal efforts to change their outlook on life, vocalize their needs, and become more assertive should be acknowledged and supported.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCancer Nursing
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Mar 24 2020

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