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

Gloria P. Martinez-Ramos, Mary Jo Garcia Biggs, Yvonne Lozano

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.

Keywords


Latina, breast cancer, survivorship, social support, health

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