A growing number of cancer patients are living longer with incurable disease. This paper describes strategies that patients use to cope with the uncertain trajectory of their disease. Twenty-seven patients with a prognosis of 12 months were recruited from the oncology and palliative care service at three metropolitan Sydney hospitals. A semi-structured face-to-face interview was conducted, which was audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. The patients coped with the uncertain trajectory of their disease through avoidance, maintaining a normal life, comparing themselves favourably with others in a similar situation and remaining positive. Participants indicated that they did not wish referral for psychological support. The implications of these findings and the influence of grief counselling are explored.


cancer, grief, counselling

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