Living beyond cancer: Adolescent and young adult perspectives on choice of and participation in meaningful occupational roles
British Journal of Occupational Therapy
School of Medical and Health Sciences
© The Author(s) 2020. Introduction: Whilst it is recognised that cancer may present numerous challenges for the adolescent or young adult during treatment, experiences after this stage as the young person transitions to life without cancer have received little attention. The purpose of this study is to understand the implications of having survived cancer for the young person’s choice of, and participation in, meaningful occupational roles. Method: In this qualitative descriptive study, four participants were interviewed on two occasions using semi-structured interviews, with the subsequent interview supplemented with photo elicitation. Participants were male and female, aged 19 and 24 years, and medically cleared of (living beyond) cancer. Thematic analysis was used. Results: Three main themes emerged: changes in relationships; moving beyond; and future perspectives. Adolescents and young adults identified the impact of the cancer experience on interpersonal relationships and related occupational roles (for example parenthood), and described how cancer affected their participation in, and the meaning of, occupational roles, and altered present and future occupational priorities. Conclusion: Having cancer as an adolescent or young adult has lasting impacts on occupational roles. Understanding the opportunities and challenges this population may face when living beyond cancer can assist in providing enhanced age-aware occupational therapy, potentially optimising outcomes for young people.