Adolescents are considered the group most susceptible to negative psychosocial outcomes when faced with a parent's illness. However, there has been extremely limited research on the adolescent's adjustment to advanced parental cancer. The aim of our study was to gain understanding of the experiences of adolescents, in their own words, to gather pilot data about the needs of this population that will be valuable in developing interventions for adolescents facing parental cancer.
A hermeneutic phenomenological approach was applied using in-depth semistructured interviews to inquire about adolescents' experiences. Some 10 adolescents (7 males, 3 females) aged 14–17 were interviewed.
Four essential themes about adolescents living with a parent's advanced cancer emerged from the analysis: “life interrupted,” “being there,” “managing emotions,” and “positives prevail.” These findings underscore the significant impact an advanced cancer diagnosis can have on a family unit and suggest that the experience may also have the potential of creating opportunities for growth and well-being. Our findings reinforce previous results that advocate for the importance of family and peer support, positive attitude, and open communication when a family is coping with advanced parental cancer.