The meaning of care for a person living with cancer: a phenomenological understanding / O sentido do cuidado na vivência da pessoa com câncer: uma compreensão fenomenológica




Living with cancer is considered an experience of strong psychological impact for the sick and their family, considering that it involves deep suffering at any of the stages. In every step of the way, along the so called ‘cancer journey’, the sick will eventually require special care. The procedures, conducts and therapeutic routines, despite being aimed at reestablishing and promoting the well-being of the sick, are usually perceived as threatening, aggressive and invasive, which tend to increase the human feelings of vulnerability and fragility. In this context, this study is aimed at understanding how a person deals with the experience of being cancer-sick, caring and being cared for. The qualitative nature of the study and the phenomenological inspiration of the methodology adopted served as reference to approach the world lived by the sick, question it and describe it in its essence. The research participants were eight members of the Support Group for the Cancer Sick (GAPC – Grupo de Apoio a Pessoas com Cancer), in Maringa, state of Parana, Brazil. Data collection was conducted by means of open interviews at the participants’ homes or within the institution premises. From their talks, units of meaning could be apprehended, which served as orientation to analyze the oncologic patient existentiality, and allowed for a comprehensive synthesis of the Care phenomenon. Such understanding is based on the ontological phenomenology of Heidegger, particularly the one proposed in his work Being and Time. In this sense, the sick living experiences are presented in a temporal unification, in which the present, with the disease, is built upon a ressignification of the past and a continuous questioning, fearful and anguished, towards the future. The sense emerging from this tripartition of time is Care, which manifests itself as an ordinary structure and allows the sick-being to project his existentiality from the facticity of the disease. In the quotidian existence, Care is perceived by the sick both as a preoccupation with himself and as a preoccupation of the others in relation to his condition. In the latter, the role of family and health professionals is particularly relevant. In this quotidian way of being, care manifestations appear either as solicitude, or as deficient care. Regarding the former, the experience with the disease is taken as an opportunity for new learning and for conquering new values. As for the latter, the disease is experienced as a manifestation of deterioration and loss of autonomy and individuality. The conclusion is that Care, as an ontological structure that originates being-in-the-world, can constitute a rich reference of possibilities to reflect on health actions within private or institutionalized environments.


phenomenology care psyco-oncology cancer psico-oncologia fenomenologia cuidado cancer

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