Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Experience of Breast Cancer: A Phenomenological Study
About 1 in 8 women in the United States develop breast cancer, according to a National Cancer Institute report (Center for Disease Control, 2003). Some women use Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) to help them cope with breast cancer and cancer treatment. Although CAM use is especially prevalent among cancer patients and is increasing in the overall U.S. population, few studies address the reasons behind CAM use in cancer patients. The purpose of this phenomenological thesis was to explore the experience of three women who used CAM while going through traditional treatment for breast cancer. Colaizzi’s method was used to analyze the data. Findings included five main themes: coping with stressors, overcoming negativity, evaluating limitations of traditional medicine, taking an active role, and alleviating side effects.