Having a child with cancer:African mothers’ perspective

Deshini Naidoo, Thavanesi Gurayah, Nabeela Kharva, Tehmi Stott, Stacey Jane Trend, Thabile Mamane, Simiso Mtolo


Background: The study was conducted in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Six boarder mothers, who lived with their children in the
CHOC house while their children received treatment for cancer, were interviewed for the study.
Objective of study:
The objective was to explore the lived experiences of mothers from rural and peri-urban areas when their children had cancer. Specifically information on occupational balance and disruption, as well as shifting responsibilities, was explored.
A single focus group followed by individual interviews were conducted.
Findings: T
he findings revealed that some African communities believe that children do not get cancer. There was a lack of factual information around the condition, which perpetuated the stigmatisation of these families. They felt isolated and could not access any community support as a result. Mothers experienced occupational disruption, as well as guilt and self-blame when their children had cancer.
Relevance to clinical practice: Support and information for mothers hospitalised with sick children should form part of occupational
therapy intervention.
Limitation and recommendations for further research:
These findings are applicable to African mothers from both a peri-urban
and rural context in KwaZulu Natal. Further research with mothers across South Africa would be useful to expand on the research findings and would potentially assist in programme development.

Key words: mothers perspectives, cancer, stigma, occupational disruption, African beliefs.

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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