"I've been through something": poetic explorations of African American women's cancer survivorship

Wendy Carter Kooken, Joan E Haase, Kathleen M Russell
Western Journal of Nursing Research 2007, 29 (7): 896-919; discussion 920-9
This article describes common experiences of African American women breast cancer survivors through poetic analysis. Group-as-a-whole theory and empirical and interpretive phenomenology guided analysis of transcripts from three focus groups (n = 21) of African American breast cancer survivors. Familiarity with transcripts and themes led to awareness of poetic ways in which African American women described experiences. Black feminist literature and African American historical references contextualized survivors' experiences. Poetic interpretations of African American women's breast cancer experiences, from diagnosis to survivorship, were created from transcript dialogues. Verbatim words were used to construct the poems, as often as possible. Eleven poems describe the journey from diagnosis to survivorship as experienced by African American women. The poetry may raise levels of awareness of African American women's breast cancer survivorship experiences. Attention to subtleties that underpin culture within the context of health care environments may help health care providers to improve cultural competence.

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