Infertility and Identity: Exploring the Experiences of Emerging Adult Cancer Survivors

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Sarah Nicole McNeil (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
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Abstract: Issues surrounding survivorship continue to grow in importance as medical advances are enabling more children with cancer to live into adulthood. Infertility is one particularly devastating late effect that impacts the lives of numerous childhood cancer survivors. There is a gap in the literature regarding the relationship between identity formation and coping with infertility in survivorship. The current study utilized a qualitative descriptive research methodology in order to explore the experiences of emerging adult cancer survivors with regard to issues of fertility and identity formation. Six participants , ranging in age from 18 to 29 , participated in qualitative interviews regarding their experience with navigating infertility in survivorship. Four themes emerged from the data: navigating an uncertain future , challenges to intimacy , restructuring identity through redefining roles , and coping through familial support. Each theme is examined using the theoretical frameworks provided by Erikson and Arnett. Based on the results of the current study , it appears that the developmental process of identity formation is often complicated by the challenge of coping with infertility in survivorship. This finding has implications for the ways in which survivorship clinics can best meet the needs of emerging adult survivors facing infertility in the midst of other developmental stressors.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
infertility, emerging adulthood, survivorship

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