Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Nicole Taylor

Second Advisor

Gwen Mitchell

Third Advisor

Brian Beaumund


Resilience, Cancer, Psychosocial oncology, Qualitative research


The phenomenon of resilience has long been identified as a key talking point within the realm of overall mental health, but the concept’s specific meaning, qualities, and sources remain somewhat elusive. For those with chronic health conditions, resilience is often identified as essential to coping effectively with significant disruptions to daily activities. The purpose of this study was to better understand the concept of resilience and to determine themes that underlie resilience, specifically within a cancer patient population. This goal was addressed by using a qualitative approach to elicit commonalities among the experiences of cancer patients representing varying types and stages of disease, treatment, prognosis, and recovery. The perspectives of nine participants, all members of a cancer support group within a large metropolitan medical center, were gathered by conducting semi-structured interviews consisting of nine questions. Data from these subjective, lived experiences of people with cancer were then analyzed and filtered using a phenomenological approach to derive common meanings for the phenomenon of resilience. Five themes of resilience emerged: staying true to oneself; balancing a sense of control with letting go; allowing for and learning from the “negatives;” asking for and receiving support from others; and giving back to others. These results offer a unique perspective on resilience within a cancer patient population. Limitations of the study, contributions to existing research, and implications for further research are discussed.

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.

Publication Statement

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43 pgs