Quality of Life of Latina Breast Cancer Survivors: From Silence to Empowerment

  • Gloria P. Martinez-Ramos Texas State University, San Marcos
  • Mary Jo Garcia Biggs Texas State University, San Marcos
  • Yvonne Lozano Texas State University, San Marcos
Keywords: Latina, breast cancer, survivorship, social support, health

Abstract

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among Latinas living in the United States. This article reports the findings of a qualitative study aimed at understanding the experiences of 25 Latinas between the ages of 28 and 83 who are long-term (at least five years post diagnosis) breast cancer survivors. The findings show three key issues and concerns: (a) fear of being stigmatized and being treated differently if they talked about their breast cancer experience; (b) overcoming the perceived negative effects that breast cancer has on their femininity; (c) the effects of breast cancer recovery and survivorship on social relationships of family and community. Family support and peer advocacy helped survivors in several areas: (a) to cope with the fear of recurrence; (b) to combat the fear of social stigma; (c) to become stronger as they dealt with the permanent life changes as a Latina breast cancer survivor; (d) to support them in the struggle for the provision of culturally sensitive health care; and (e) to provide social support in the form of advocacy for other Latina breast cancer survivors.

Author Biographies

Gloria P. Martinez-Ramos, Texas State University, San Marcos
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
Mary Jo Garcia Biggs, Texas State University, San Marcos
Associate Professor, School of Social Work
Yvonne Lozano, Texas State University, San Marcos
Assistant Professor, School of Health Administration
Published
2013-09-04