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The Buddhist coping experiences of breast cancer survivors: A phenomenological approach

Lai, Oi Ling

The Buddhist coping experiences of breast cancer survivors: A phenomenological approach Thumbnail


Oi Ling Lai


Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women in Hong Kong, with an incidence rate of one in sixteen. A cancer diagnosis is a life changing event, and the impact of breast cancer disrupts daily lives in multiple ways. Religion and/or spirituality can provide a means to cope with stress and the fear of recurrence. There is, however, little in the way of research on the Buddhist faith, particularly as it applies to women with breast cancer in Hong Kong.

A phenomenological research design guided data collection. A purposive sample was recruited, comprising 10 women who survived breast cancer. A total of twenty semi-structured, in-depth and face to face interviews were conducted with these women. Their unique lifeworld stories reflected the wider context of healthcare in Hong Kong.

Two layers of data reduction were employed; thematic analysis and the van Manen's phenomenological method. A Gadamerian hermeneutic approach that was applied elucidated phenomenological aspects of the participants’ lifeworld experiences.
There were two significant sources of stress for all these women; the suffering caused by treatment and the pressure to fulfil their role as a mother. New knowledge was generated, including the 'lifeworld' essences which reflected suffering that transcended words, and gratitude for the support of others. All the women voiced two objectives in life: "to actualise their essence of life" and "to study and practice their Buddhist faith." Both body and mind changed from passively "being helped by others" to actively "empowering and encouraging other people."

Searching for the meaning of life is important in helping women cope with adversity when living with cancer. The researcher suggests cancer survivors define their ultimate goal in life and explore the significance of their faith, which empowers them to achieve happiness in their own unique way.

Words: 298


Lai, O. L. The Buddhist coping experiences of breast cancer survivors: A phenomenological approach. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date May 13, 2019
Publicly Available Date May 13, 2019
Keywords Buddhist coping, breast cancer, survivor, phenomenology, qualitative, interpretative research, Gadamer, hermeneutic, chanting, meditation,
Public URL
Award Date May 13, 2019


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