The present qualitative study explores the lived experience of adult children living at home whose parent has been diagnosed with, and treated for, cancer. Little is known about how these adult children experience their parents’ illness. Yet, how adult children navigate the cancer journey may ultimately influence the patient’s recovery. Using van Manen’s (1990) interpretive phenomenological approach, four major themes emerged from the participants’ stories: confronting death, experiencing the impact of treatment; the need for emotional support; and the cancer legacy. Results showed that adult children experienced intense and distressful emotions such as fear, anger, shock, and helplessness. Treatment was described as a ‘turbulent time,’ of multiple demands and of heightened emotional distress. Yet, despite the suffering, these study participants also drew constructive meaning from their experiences. Participants highlighted the crucial need to have someone to talk to, and to be there for them. Implications for counselling are discussed.
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