Date of Conferral





Public Health


Cornelia White


This qualitative study examined the phenomenology of breast cancer among seven African American female participants who reside in rural, medically underserved communities in Northeastern North Carolina. The aim of this descriptive study was to explore the answers to the overarching question of how African American women with breast cancer self-manage the emotional, physical, financial, and social issues associated with the diagnosis and treatment. The transactional model of stress and coping provided the theoretical framework for examining the role of social reinforcements, beliefs, attitudes, and intentions on the health behavior of African American women with breast cancer in some rural, resource-stricken communities in Northeastern North Carolina. Oral data were collected to extract participants’ interpretations of their social support and applied coping processes, and psychosocial experiences of living with breast cancer. Analysis of their narrative data suggested a set of themes: a difficult reality, the meaning of social support, rural health narrative, learning how to cope in the face of uncertainty, and a desire to serve and future aspirations. The participants reported that having support from family, friends, and the community helped them to better cope with the issues associated with breast cancer. Findings suggest that these women experienced greater understanding regarding the significance of social support and their ability to cope with the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. This study’s findings could lead to positive social change by encouraging medical professionals working with African Americans with breast cancer in rural sectors to consider creating interventions that promote survivorship support programs.