Young women growing up within the context of familial breast cancer are faced with significant psychosocial challenges. The most profound of these are the temporary absence, and permanent loss, of their mothers. Eighteen young women (aged 18–34) from rural Victoria (Australia), with family histories of breast cancer, were interviewed for this study. The data were analyzed using hermeneutic Heideggerian phenomenology to explore their lived experiences. Our findings reveal the long term and pervasive consequences of relational distress associated with the temporary and permanent loss of mothers. This distress is experienced through disruptions to developmental attachment and embodied and biographical identity. We highlight how familial breast cancer extends beyond genetic inheritance to encompass the relational distress of loss and grief. We conclude by highlighting the importance of considering the ways in which temporality, self-identity, and daughters' ways of seeing themselves are significantly altered by their mothers' cancer experience.
Illness, Crisis & Loss – SAGE
Published: Jul 1, 2018