Background Women have difficulties in making decisions and experiences an unexpectedly long recovery period after immediate breast reconstruction. There are still many limitations in understanding the overall changes in life experienced by women with breast cancer before and after immediate breast reconstruction. Objective This study aimed to explore the challenges experienced by women with breast cancer undergoing immediate breast reconstruction and how they coped with these problems. Methods Strauss and Corbin's grounded theory design was used. In-depth face-to-face individual interviews were undertaken with 11 women with breast cancer from 4 hospitals in Korea. Data collection and analysis were conducted simultaneously, using the constant comparative method. Results The core category was "struggling to accept the new breast as part of my body.""Decision making regarding immediate breast reconstruction"was the initial step, followed by "facing the changed breasts after surgery."The challenge of "living with the new breasts"slowly merged into "making up my mind to accept my breasts with gratitude."Conclusion Women with breast cancer undergoing immediate breast reconstruction struggled to accept the new breast as part of their body, and some reached a measure of closure and acceptance with gratitude. Implication for Practice Nurses can apply findings by recognizing the experiences, perceptions, and needs of women; providing patients with sufficient information on the whole process; and offering continuous supportive care to facilitate the coping process. In addition, nurses should consider a variety of approaches that help women to integrate their changed bodies into their self-concept and self-image and restore a sense of normality.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was partially funded by the Korean Society of Women Health Nursing 2017 Research Award.
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