Adjusting to life after esophagectomy: the experience of survivors and carers

Noleen K McCorry, Martin Dempster, Ceara Clarke, Robert Doyle
Qualitative Health Research 2009, 19 (10): 1485-94
Following surgery for esophageal cancer, patients can experience complex physical, social, and emotional changes. Investigation of these challenges, particularly from the perspective of the patient and his or her carer, has been limited. The current study explored the emotional and cognitive experiences of esophageal cancer survivors and those of their carers, using focus groups conducted with members of a patient support group. Analysis of the patients' data yielded three themes: coping with a death sentence, adjusting to and accepting an altered self, and the unique benefits of peer support. Analysis of the carers' data also yielded three themes: the carer as buffer, representations of recovery and recurrence, and normalizing experiences through peer support. Esophageal cancer patients and their carers require holistic support in their efforts to adjust to the social, emotional, and physical consequences of esophagectomy. Peers could be an effective channel for the support of patients and carers.

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