The Experience of Breast Cancer Survivors’ Participation in Important Activities During and After Treatments

Author ORCID Identifier

Anne Fleischer ORCID iD icon


Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Document Type


Publication Date




This study compares breast cancer survivors’ experiences of participating in activities important to them, both during and after breast cancer treatment.


Eight survivors between the ages of 41 and 60 years with Stage I, II, or III breast cancer who had been treated consecutively with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy were recruited for the study. Participants completed the Activity Card Sort-modified and a semi-structured interview at the end of radiation therapy and 6 months post treatment.


Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to analyze the transcripts. The themes identified differed at each time point. At the end of treatment, themes were (a) personal and treatment stress changes activity participation, (b) strategies increase activity participation, (c) fatigue, fear of infection or other side effects reduces activity participation, (d) family and friends assist with completing activities, and (e) plans for participating in activities after treatment ends. At 6 months post treatment, themes were: (a) emotions influence activity participation, (b) activities after cancer have changed, and (c) side effects influence activity participation.


During treatment, survivors may be focusing more on “needed” activities; later on, survivors may want to participate in leisure activities, including ones that they have been wanting to pursue.

Journal Title

British Journal of Occupational Therapy