Exploring experiences of married Pakistani women, first two years post Mastectomy at tertiary care hospital in Karachi, Pakistan

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MScN)


School of Nursing and Midwifery, Pakistan


Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women worldwide. According to the annual cancer registry Pakistan, in 2012 breast cancer incidence was the highest among the top ten malignancies. Therefore,women diagnosed with breast cancer are at increased risk of physical and psychological distress, which, in turn, can affect their quality of life. Women use multiple strategies to cope with the disease. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of married Pakistani women, two years post mastectomy. Methodology: A qualitative descriptive exploratory design was used to explore the experiences of breast cancer patients during the first two years after mastectomy. Twelve participants were recruited from the out-patient clinic of the Aga Khan University Hospital based on the pre-determined inclusion criteria. Purposive sampling was used to select the participants and data was collected through semi-structured interviews, which were audio taped and transcribed word for word. The data was analyzed and coding was done for the data. Then themes and subthemes that emerged from the data were identified. Results: One overarching theme, Quality of life and five main themes and subthemes emerged from the data. The five main themes extracted from the data, which were: Theme one, from history till diagnosis, which included two sub themes: (1.1) self breast assessment and (1.2) first time feelings.Theme two, worries, which included four sub themes (2.1) self-image, (2.2) raising children, (2.3) staging of cancer and metastasis, and (2.4) increasing financial burden. Theme three, varied support system, which included six sub themes: (3.1) husband's support, (3.2) children's support, (3.3) parents' support, (3.4) in-laws' support, (3.5) siblings' support, and (3.6) colleagues' support. Theme four, coping strategies, which included two sub themes: (4.1) faith in God, and (4.2) fighting back attitude. And theme five recommendations, which included three sub themes: (5.1) formulation of support groups, (5.2) designated nurse expert, and (5.3) government interventions. Conclusion: The study findings revealed that participants got extensive support from their husbands and other relatives. Support systems and effective coping strategies were beneficial for these women, as these women coped well after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Strong recommendations were made by the participants for the formulation of support groups, which could help them reduce their anxiety through information exchange. The study also provided important implications for nursing education, practicing nurses, and research. Key Words: Breast cancer, Post-Mastectomy, Quality of life.

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