Strategies African-American Cancer Survivors Use to Overcome Fears and Fatalistic Attitudes

Jill B. Hamilton, Nakia C. Best, Kayoll V. Galbraith, Valarie C. Worthy, LTC Angelo D. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This qualitative study explored strategies African-American cancer survivors use to overcome their fears and fatalistic attitudes toward cancer at the point of diagnosis through completion of treatment. Thirty-one African-American cancer survivors who had completed or nearly completed treatment were recruited through criterion purposeful sampling. In-depth, open-ended interviews were used to collect data. The data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Of the 31 survivors interviewed, 26 reported being fearful of cancer and believed that cancer would result in death. These cancer survivors were particularly fearful of having a cancer had spread, of being isolated, and performing less effectively at work. Strategies used to overcome these fears included increasing their own awareness about cancer, using positive self-talk, and avoiding negative people. The findings suggest that past experiences continue to influence fears and fatalistic perspectives about cancer and that educational resources to inform the public about cancer may be ignored until there is a confirmed diagnosis of cancer. Televised news broadcasts of high-profile personalities who had died from cancer were also anxiety provoking, particularly if the cancer survivor died of a recurrence from cancer. Prevalent sources of information and support for these survivors were family members or close friends they trusted with personal information, perceived as strong, or experienced in the care of other cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-635
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • African-American
  • Cancer
  • Fatalistic attitudes
  • Fears
  • Social support
  • Survivorship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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