Hello all! Finally, the thesis submission day has already passed and I managed to submit it on time, yay to me! Now all I have to do is to sum up those 150 pages of writings into 10 power point slides of which I will present on the 29th of June (my thesis-defending day). Another step to go before I get my bachelor degree, wish me luck!
Anyway, I am going to share ‘a bit’ about my thesis, which titled “Health-Related Quality of Life of Cancer Victims Post-Mastectomy”. Oh my God, I hope this isn’t going to be a long post.
First, why breast-cancer?
Well, though cardio failures happens to be the world most cautious terminal illness since now and then, cancer itself is one of the three major causes of death in the whole world. Cancer starts when there are abnormal cells in our body which grow out of control, and to be noted, aggressively. The DNA in these abnormal cells couldn’t repair themselves and couldn’t die like any other damaged cells in our body, moreover they keep creating new damaged cells and could spread themselves to the entire body through our blood stream affecting other parts of the body. These cells will produce pressures to other tissues of the body and consume food supply which could leads to massive pain experienced by the human carrying it and eventually death.
Besides its physical effects to the body, breast cancer is one of the most avoided chronic illness by women because it involves one of the most important parts of the body, the breast. For some cultures, breast is one of the most important thing to symbolize women’s beauty, therefore, breast-cancer is frightened by some women because its medication involves the removing of the important organ (usually called by mastectomy). In some women who consider breast as a part of their identity as a female, the mastectomy procedure can resulted in a prolonged depression and sadness which can interfere their medication process and moreover, their overall quality of life. It is the unique characteristic of the illness that brings my curiosity in exploring it.
Next, what is quality of life?
Well, quality of life happens to have so many definitions since there are lots of researchers who’re getting their focuses on the subject within the last 20 years. Some of them say quality of life is all about being healthy, yet World Health Organization itself declares that quality of life is more than being healthy or the absence of disease. Quality of life is a rather complex construct to define, because it includes physical and psychological well being, as well as their personal faith, social relationships with other people, and maybe also about their environmental well-being and things like financial or occupational well-being depends on how important each of these aspects for them. It is more about ones’ perception or appraisal of how their lives aspects suit their beliefs, expectations, hopes, standards, etc.
Simply put, it’s about how ones’ lives is satisfying enough for them.
Because my research was conducted to the breast-cancer victims, then the quality of life I’ve measured is narrowed down to the one in clinical and health setting. In clinical and health settings, quality of life represents :
“the functional effects of an illness and its consequent therapy upon a patient, as perceived by the patient” (Sigstad, Stray-Pedersen, Froland)
So, in my research, I conducted interviews and observations to 3 different subjects to explore about their experience in dealing with breast-cancer, starting from its diagnosis process, its medication which include their decisions to have a mastectomy (the one that removes your cancer-infected breast), their chemotherapy and radiation therapy and its side effects, and how they perceive their quality of life nowadays (this includes their physical, functional, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being).
How Was The Research?
Very tiring indeed. It gave me hard times and tears (a lot of it) in some points.
The 3 subjects I interviewed were very cooperative in sharing their experience with breast-cancer and mastectomy, also what keeps them strong despite all of the adversities they have from it. They share how was all of the process begun, how were they feeling about it, what are their fears and worries now considering that cancer might come back, what have been bugging them in their daily lives nowadays,and how they’ve managed through all of it.
They told me that although they’re having some decreases in most of their quality of life aspects, this cancer experience has gave them new ways of perceiving their world. It makes them see that health, and some of your closest ones are maybe the only things that matters in this world, despite their carrier and maybe the luxuries they have. They also told me sometimes, faith and resignation is the best ‘cure’ of all, spiritually speaking. The only thing they keep in their mind that helps them the most is that, if God put them into it, then God must have the plan(s) to get them through it. I might sound hyperbolic putting the sentence in bold, but hey, trust me, if you heard this from people who have experienced a somewhat closer to death experience, this makes sense. It gave me this strong impression that I really wish I were a more religious person.
I guess, those things I got, worth every interviews, observations, paper-workings, reading through literature, falsely used weekends, panicked states from having lack of time management, technical problems, money and time spent, not to mention the tears. Well, to sum it all, I think the most worthy thing gained from getting your thesis done is not the degree you’ll achieve, nor the grade you’ll get. The lessons you’ve gained while doing it, will stay in your mind, even in your heart that you’ll never forget them for the rest of your life. Lessons of how to decide what you want, how to manage your time, how to be patient with technical problems, how to put yourself in others’ shoes, how to make the most of your perseverance, how to be persistent, and how not to lose to yourself.
See, am I good at dramatizing things or what?
This is for you Mom, rest in peace :*
– D! –