Date of Conferral
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
In 2013, approximately 232,340 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, and an estimated 39,620 women would die as a result of breast cancer. Stage I breast cancer can often be treated, but Stage IV breast cancer presents more difficulties in treatment, as it spreads to the bones, liver, or other areas of the body. Consequently, women with Stage IV breast cancer have very low 18 month and 5-year survival rates. According to some statistics, 79.5% of the United States population claim to be Christian. Much of this segment of the population uses faith to guide most aspects of their lives, including issues pertaining to their health. The purpose of this study was to explore how women integrated faith into their lived experience of combating cancer. This mixed method phenomenological study examined the perceived attributions for survival among a group of 32 breast cancer survivors of various ages and cancer stages in the tristate area of Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. Faith related attributions for survival were more commonly reported among women who also reported affiliation to Christianity than women who did not express religious affiliation; however, faith related attributions often also incorporated the restorative effects of standard medical procedures. The implications for positive social change in this study includes the potential inclusion of faith in developing culturally appropriate strategies for treatment and recovery of many illnesses, including cancer.