Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Maria Scannapieco


This study describes women's emotional experiences with gynecological oncology, with an emphasis on depression, using a qualitative phenomenology approach. The qualitative methodology was designed to give the women participants a voice. Ten women who resided in North Texas participated in the study. Each of the women had been diagnosed with a gynecological oncology at some point in their lives. Seven of the women had an ovarian cancer diagnosis, one had cervical cancer, one had endometrial cancer, and one had a diagnosis of vaginal and cervical cancer. The participants ranged in age from 28 to 67 years of age. The results of the data analysis revealed 11 themes for this group of women: Wide Range of Emotions at Diagnosis, Advocacy, Support Groups, Personal Growth, Spirituality, Longevity, Complex Support Systems, Chemotherapy Side Effects, Bonded with Doctors, Medications, and Counseling. The Support Group theme holds the key to many of these coping mechanisms as it appears to be a pathway to other themes. The women in the support groups appear to be key informants in developing information and ways to cope with gynecological cancers. All of the participants endorsed three or more symptoms of depression after receiving their gynecological cancer diagnosis. The most commonly endorsed depression symptoms also happen to be side effects of chemotherapy and all the participants received chemotherapy. Of all the participants, one, who was a minority, was significantly different from the other women in the study and reported significant distress and depression, which was alleviated by her support group involvement. In this study, as I set out to study emotional experiences, I found resiliency was the key trait shared by the women. Resiliency is the consistent "positive adaptation in the face of significant adversity or risk" (Masten & Reed, 2002, p .75). The following quote from one of the participants captured the spirit of the women in this study, "You know, as soon as I knew what I had, it's time to fight it. Tell me how to fight it, and I will do everything in my power to fight it."


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Social Work Commons