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The experience of parents living with a child with cancer at the end of life

Journal title
European journal of cancer care
Publication year
Wang, S. C.; Wu, L. M.; Yang, Y. M.; Sheen, J. M.

The study was to describe the essence of the lived experience of parents with a child with incurable cancer at the end of life (EOL). A descriptive phenomenological study was conducted with ten parents of children with incurable cancer in a medical centre in Taiwan. Data were collected from in-depth interviews and were analysed according to the method of Giorgi. Two major themes emerged: (a) immersion in the struggling and suffering, which included conflicts and arguments, witnessing their child suffering, denying their child being at EOL and waiting for a miracle; and (b) acceptance of death, which included an end to suffering, living in the moment, discussion of death and letting go. Parents had difficulty adapting to a palliative care perspective due to their misconception that this meant giving up on their child. In addition, religion and belief played varied and important roles in the lived experience of these parents with a child with incurable cancer. Healthcare providers must address the core value of palliative care and help parents accept the reality of their child’s situation at an earlier stage in order to provide a better quality of life for the child.

Research abstracts