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Date of Award


Access Type

Campus Access

Document type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Donna M. Zucker

Second Advisor

Karen Kalmakis

Third Advisor

Aline Gubrium

Subject Categories



Cancer is the leading cause of death among Asian or Pacific islanders (AAPIs) while it is only the second leading cause of death in other ethnic groups. Chinese Americans are the majority and the fastest growing sub-ethnic group of AAPIs. A cancer experience in some ways may make their lives more complicated than the lives of nonimmigrants. The challenges facing individuals with cancer often continue after leaving the acute care setting. Healing in relation to quality of life for cancer patients has been reported. Although the issue of healing has long been addressed in nursing literature, none of these studies have explored Chinese Americans with cancer illness.

This phenomenological inquiry, grounded in Newman's theory of health as expanding consciousness and Heidegger's phenomenology aimed to explore the healing experience of Chinese Americans with cancer illness. Eight adult Chinese Americans with a cancer history completed interviews. The term (Quan Yu) were used as a translation for the word healing in interviews. Van Manen's methodical features and three approaches were utilized for gaining understanding of healing within cancer illness. Five criteria of appraisal trustworthiness as suggested by deWitt& Ploeg were utilized.

Four themes grounded in the recognition of cancer within oneself were: from common knowledge to personal ownership; seeing and naming cancer within oneself; one's theory of answering the "why me?"; and a changing pattern. The healing experience was introduced as an ongoing span, named healing in progress. The meaning of healing was central to the theme, healing (Quan Yu) as experiencing fullness of recovery from cancer illness. Three manifestations in healing included confidence, health and spirituality.

This inquiry explored healing by adopting a healing outcome-based approach without assuming the causality between any specific healing practices and the healing outcome. Through appreciating healing within cancer illness we could become much more appreciative of our own being. Future studies may explore the issues of normalcy and stigma and how they are intertwined in one's healing experience.