Comfort: voices of adolescents with metastatic cancer
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Published studies documenting adolescents own descriptions of their comfort experiences while undergoing treatment for metastatic cancer is limited. Expanded knowledge of how young patients explicate the meaning and significance of their comfort experience would be valuable information that would help bridge the gap in our knowledge and practice. This study explored the meaning and significance of comfort as experienced by adolescents with metastatic and progressive cancer. This study was conducted in a children's cancer hospital of a large tertiary institution that specializes in the treatment of cancer. Purposive sampling was used to recruit patients. Data collection tools used were demographic questionnaire and a semi-structured interview designed by the research team. There were thirteen adolescents with metastatic solid tumors of varied pathology and patients with progressive acute lymphoblastic leukemia who were interviewed for 45-60 minutes. The data were analyzed using descriptive phenomenology. These young patients collectively described happiness and well being as the meaning of comfort. The significance of their comfort experience was their hopefulness for the future. Comfort fueled their ability to accept the diagnosis, cope with the distressing symptoms, and hope for a cure. Themes that emerged were consistent with the holistic definition of comfort according to Kolcaba's comfort theory. They were: Who am I? (physical changes), Why me? What would it be now?, Where do I stand and belong?, Help from a Higher Being, Existential well-being, My social support, and This is where I belong. The caring behavior of the health care staff, their family and friends helped them cope with their disease. Positive coping behavior has been observed to promote hopefulness.