Objective: This study explored the lived experience of Hispanic/Latino women dealing with BCRL.

Participants: A convenience and purposive sampling of 13 Hispanic women, 42-80 years old with diagnosed breast cancer-related lymphedema for over one year, were recruited December 2015 – April 2016.

Methods: Using interpretive phenomenology, Hispanic women with BCRL were individually interviewed using open-ended questions to explore common themes experienced by this particular ethnic group. Sampling continued until data saturation was met. Recruiting took place through four health care practices in south Texas. Data consisted of field notes, researcher journaling, recorded audio interviews, and the respective transcriptions. Data analysis occurred through three main steps: naïve reading, interpretive reading, and interpretation of the whole.

Results: All 13 participants self-identified as Mexican-American. Three major themes were identified: (1) Sense of loss, (2) Resignation to the new self, and (3) I didn't know. The first theme involved a negative transformative experience, grieving the loss of the old "better" self. The second theme refers to the acceptance of the new self with all the physical and psychosocial limitations. The final theme, I didn’t know, highlights the uncertainty women experienced after their breast cancer treatments and the development of their breast cancer-related lymphedema.

Conclusion: While similar in some respects to the experience of non-Hispanic women with BCRL, findings in this study of Hispanic women with BCRL identified “familism” and a lack of understanding that may impede treatment. Health care providers need to be aware of the needs of their Hispanic patients experiencing BCRL.

Date of publication

Fall 12-16-2016

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Barbara K. Haas, PhD; Melinda Hermanns, PhD; Susan Yarbrough, PhD; Jane M. Armer, PhD


Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

Included in

Nursing Commons