Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Programs

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research

First Advisor

Christopher M. Fisher, PhD, MPH

Second Advisor

Jason D. Coleman, PhD, MSPH

Abstract

With new diagnostic technologies and treatment modalities available, more people than ever are living as cancer survivors in the United States. A large group of this population consists of breast cancer survivors. The purpose of this research was to explore the intersection of breast cancer survivorship, at points beyond the termination of treatment, and sexuality, including expressions and performance of gender, relationships, and sexual behavior. The current study used semi-structured interviews, conducted with 21 Midwestern women at least 6-months post-treatment, to better understand the intersection of these two concepts. Following traditions of narrative and phenomenological qualitative research, the women’s own stories were used to explore the impact that survivorship, diagnosis, and treatment may have on a woman’s sexual self. Results are presented through manuscripts exploring the role of sexual script theory and the role of the breast in the lives of women after breast cancer. This study found that women’s sexual scripts were impacted by a diagnosis of breast cancer. For participants of this study, new scripts emerged that assisted in making meaning of the experience.

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