Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Dr. Kenneth Kirkwood


Although the term survivor is frequently used in cancer discourse, its meaning remains unclear from the perspective of those who have had a paediatric brain tumour (PBT), and therefore warrants further investigation. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the construction of the meaning of ‘survivor’ with young adults who have had a PBT. Using a constructivist grounded theory; this study generated a theoretical model that illustrates the factors that characterized the meaning of the term survivor, as constructed in the context of young adults who have had a PBT. Six participants took part in this study, they were between the ages of 18 and 30 and had experienced a PBT from 18 months to 18 years prior to engaging in this study. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with each participant. Participants also kept a daily reflective journal to record their thoughts related to the term survivor for two weeks prior to the interview. Participants also completed a demographic questionnaire, which provided background information. Interviews and journal entries were transcribed verbatim and were analyzed using initial, focused, and theoretical coding, which helped categorize and subcategorize emerging themes. The researcher used a constant comparative process and reflexive memoing to track emerging themes. A theoretical model illustrated how participants underwent a process to generate meaning of the term survivor, while they experienced ongoing struggles. This model consisted of two main phases: the first phase consisted of a reflection of the individual’s illness experience, the second phase involved an assessment of the outcome of the individual, where participants further constructed a meaning of the survivor term. Participants also discussed several important overarching factors, which influenced both the illness reflection and the meaning construction phases. The researcher sought to gain a better understanding of the term survivor with hopes this would help future former patients to acquire a better understanding of their self-identity during their life after a PBT. The researcher also hopes to inform healthcare providers and researchers of the importance of clearly communicating with patients and participants while remaining critical and conscious of using the term survivor.



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