Experiences of breast cancer treatment among women in Harare.
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This study is an investigation of the traumatic experiences of Harare women diagnosed with breast cancer. Additionally, the study examines the treatment regimens prescribed for the women and the manner in which they improvise appropriate coping mechanisms to suit their particular circumstances and temperaments. It also investigates the various factors that appear to impact upon the administration and progress of the treatment prescribed for the afflicted women. The study is situated within the structure-agency construct and places greater emphasis on actor-oriented perspectives as embodied in the works of Norman Long (1992). Long’s informative work articulates how the notions of structure and agency influence both individual and collective responses as the women undergo breast cancer treatment. This study utilizes a qualitative research methodology and the corresponding research methods. Its findings are based on data collected from a non-probability method using the snow ball sampling technique. The data-collection technique used for the study was the semi-structured in-depth interview with a target group of five (5) Harare women. Indications from the study are that women for whom breast cancer treatment is prescribed are subject to numerous side effects that include physical body image changes, health-related changes and psychological challenges. Other factors under consideration include monetary issues, religious and traditional beliefs, socio-cultural factors, aggressive treatment regimens, factors relating to rejection and institutional factors. The study further shows that different women respond differently to breast cancer therapy and also employ various individualised coping mechanisms including psychosocial support, counselling, religion, acceptance and the use of complementary and alternative medicine. The study also shows that the aggressive treatment regimens lower the women’s quality of life with the women often feeling worse than before the prognosis of breast cancer. The study recommends that further investigations into the phenomenon of breast cancer treatment be carried out.