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Impacts of long-term illness: experience of young adults with Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Abstract

This article analyzes the tangible and intangible impacts involved in the experience of young adults diagnosed with a long-term illness, namely Acute Myeloid Leukemia. It follows on from broader research, inspired by the Phenomenology of Alfred Schutz. The data were obtained through in-depth interviews with four young adults, aged between 20 and 28, who were in the maintenance phase of cancer treatment between November 2013 and January 2014 in the State of Mato Grosso. The results focus on striking aspects of the impacts of the experience during the process of becoming aware of the illness in which the diagnosis provoked feelings mobilized by ideas regarding a serious illness. This is followed by the impacts on appearance due to the treatment, especially hair loss and day-to-day coping strategies, as well as weight gain or loss. Finally, there is the marked impact of the imminence of death due to the lethality of the disease and the testimony of the occurrence in friends and family, but also for the survivors. The impacts are the effects and transformations in the lives of people and their relations and evoke (re)actions, however, they are diluted in the experience composing it, and not being homogeneous, its approach addresses the singularity encountered in contextualized biographies.

Key words
Acute Myeloid Leukemia; Experience of illness; Chronic illness

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