First Advisor

David Ritchie

Date of Publication

Spring 7-25-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Communication






Breast -- Cancer -- Patients, Body image in women, Cancer in women -- Psychological aspects, Medical personnel and patient, Interpersonal communication, Metaphor -- Therapeutic use



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 130 pages)


Female breast cancer patients are often confused, frustrated, and devastated by changes occurring in their bodies and the treatment process. Many women express frustration and concern with the inability to know what the next phases of their life will bring. Previous research also states that many women struggle to communicate with others about treatment as well as side effects. This research examined how woman are use metaphors to describe their experience with breast cancer, specifically throughout the treatment period related to body image struggles. I qualitatively conducted interviews with women who were either currently in treatment or just finishing. My interview questions related to their uncertainties, as well as the changes occurring to their bodies. After conducting the interviews I transcribed the conversations and coded for specific metaphors. The results were consistent with previous research, in that that the interviewees used at least four major metaphors to describe what they are going through. The four most prominent metaphors were (1) journey, (2) game, (3) struggle/fight, (4) grasping. The findings could benefit patients, nurses, physicians as well as family and friends to reduce stress and help with coping. The findings may also help female patients struggling with identity issues due to lumpectomies or mastectomies. Understanding how patients comprehend the disease can ultimately help others to understand and hopefully reduce some of the concerns of all those involved in such situations.


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