Being diagnosed with breast cancer in the prime of one's life is a life-altering experience for a woman. Treatment protocols, which may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, are grueling and may affect many aspects of a woman's life, including her self-image, her sense of femininity, her relationship, and her sexuality. This dissertation explored what it was like for women who were premenopausal at the time they began treatment to go through chemotherapy-induced menopause, particularly with regard to its impact on their sexuality. Interviews were conducted with 8 women between the ages of 38 and 48 years of age who had undergone chemotherapy-induced menopause following breast cancer treatment. A descriptive phenomenological method was used to analyze the interviews and discern themes that arose from each of them, as well as aggregate themes that occurred across interviews. The main aggregate themes from the interviews included vulnerability, changing identity, and adapting to new sense of self.
Women's experiences were examined using a depth psychological framework that characterized the experience of going through chemotherapy-induced menopause as a result of breast cancer treatment as a death-rebirth experience. When a woman is first diagnosed with breast cancer, she comes face to face with mortality. This brush with mortality (The Death) makes women feel vulnerable, and at this stage, chemotherapy-induced menopause may seem inconsequential by comparison. While going through treatment, a woman realizes she is not the same person she was before her diagnosis either physically or psychologically. In this phase (The Descent), she experiences a changing identity. Finally, becoming a cancer "survivor" entails adapting to a new sense of self, sometimes including changes in her sexuality. During this phase (The Rebirth), she may feel isolated, unable to find anyone to talk to about her experiences. Learning to adapt to this changing sense of identify may be transformative ultimately, if she is able to process her experiences and individuate. Therapy may play an important role in this process, encouraging women to share and process their experiences.
|School:||Pacifica Graduate Institute|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-B 73/03, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Counseling Psychology, Clinical psychology|
|Keywords:||Breast cancer, Cancer survivors, Chemotherapy, Menopause|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be