Original Research

The experiences of mine workers with cancer

Portia Ramashia, Heather A. Lawrence, Fatima Bhyat
Health SA Gesondheid | Vol 23 | a1176 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hsag.v23i0.1176 | © 2018 Portia Ramashia, Heather Ann Lawrence, fatima Bhyat | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 April 2018 | Published: 22 November 2018

About the author(s)

Portia Ramashia, Department of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Heather A. Lawrence, Department of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Fatima Bhyat, Department of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Cancer is a disease that instils a fear of death in the minds of most people. For South African mine workers, the fear of death is compounded by a fear of being unable to fulfil work obligations in an industry where employment is central to the miners’ identity.

Aim: The purpose of this research was to explore and describe the experiences of mine workers experiencing a cancer diagnosis requiring radiation therapy.

Setting: Mining towns in the Limpopo province, Thabazimbi and Lephalale.

Methods: A qualitative, descriptive and exploratory study design was utilised. The purposeful sample consisted of 11 mine workers receiving treatment at a radiotherapy centre in the North West province. Data were collected using an open-ended questionnaire and individual in-depth telephonic interviews. Data were analysed using open coding to identify themes.

Results: The themes identified were the emotional experience resulting from the diagnosis, changing family dynamics and information needs from radiotherapy professionals. The psychosocial support required by this group of patients is unique and radiation therapists need to provide wholistic support that is tailored to address the contextual needs of this group of patients.

Conclusions: Mine workers often live far away from their family and are forced to face the cancer journey alone without family support. Oncology professionals, therefore, need to create supportive structures, including emotional and financial counselling, to ensure compliance with treatment protocols, thus facilitating a positive treatment outcome.


Keywords

mine workers; cancer; radiotherapy

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