Arab American women's lived experience with early-stage breast cancer diagnosis and surgical treatment

Rana Fakhri Obeidat, Robin M. Lally, Suzanne S. Dickerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Currently, limited literature addresses Arab American women's responses to the impact of breast cancer and its treatments. Objective: The objective of the study was to understand the experience of being diagnosed with and undergoing surgical treatment for early-stage breast cancer among Arab American women. Methods: A qualitative interpretive phenomenological research design was used for this study. A purposive sample of 10 Arab American women who were surgically treated for early-stage breast cancer in the United States was recruited. Data were collected using individual interviews and analyzed using the Heideggerian hermeneutical methodology. Results: Arab American women accepted breast cancer diagnosis as something in God's hands that they had no control over. Although they were content with God's will, the women believed that the diagnosis was a challenge that they should confront. The women confronted this challenge by accessing the healthcare system for treatment, putting trust in their physicians, participating when able in treatment decisions, using religious practices for coping, maintaining a positive attitude toward the diagnosis and the treatment, and seeking information. Conclusion: Arab American women's fatalistic beliefs did not prevent them from seeking care and desiring treatment information and options when diagnosed with breast cancer. Implications for Practice: It is important that healthcare providers encourage patients to express meanings they attribute to their illness to provide them with appropriate supportive interventions. They should also individually assess patients' decision-making preferences, invite them to participate in decision making, and provide them with tailored means necessary for such participation without making any assumptions based on patients' ethnic/cultural background.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-311
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Arab American
  • Breast
  • Cancer
  • Culture
  • Decision making
  • Heidegger
  • Lived experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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