Surviving childhood cancer: A descriptive approach to understanding the impact of life‐threatening illness

Ross E. Gray*, Brian D. Doan, Peter Shermer, Annette Vatter Fitzgerald, Martin P. Berry, Derek Jenkin, Mary A. Doherty

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)


    Descriptive findings are presented from a study of adult survivors of childhood cancer. Most survivors reported having coped well with illness. When asked about various life domains, in all cases a majority saw cancer experience as having had a positive impact over the long term. Despite the overall good adaptation of survivors, illness experience was traumatic at the time and it continued to cause difficulties. School, work and physical symptoms caused problems for a proportion of survivors—with greater representation from among those treated for brain tumours. One‐quarter of survivors felt that they currently had insufficient medical information. Interpersonal relationships, although greatly valued and heavily invested in by survivors, were also frequently characterized by heightened sensitivity and cautiousness. Finally, a small minority of cancer survivors showed considerable adjustment difficulties, most notably in the area of social relations. Descriptive findings are integrated with findings from comparisons of survivors to a group of healthy peers. Implications of study findings for research directions and program development are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)235-245
    Number of pages11
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1992


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