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Autoethnography: Reflective Journaling and Meditation to Cope With Life-Threatening Breast Cancer

Patricia Ann Sealy
CJON 2012, 16(1), 38-41 DOI: 10.1188/12.CJON.38-41

Autoethnography is a qualitative research approach whereby the researcher shares personal stories that relate to the broader cultural context. Living through breast cancer showed me how reflective journaling and meditation can help one to cope with locally advanced breast cancer. The purpose of this autoethnography is to assist nurses in gaining a greater understanding of the primary cultural implications of (a) unresolved emotional issues from the past complicating current treatment and recovery for locally advanced breast cancer, and that (b) reflective journaling and meditation can provide an opportunity to "socially reconstruct" past psychological injury. In this example of autoethnography, I reconstructed the past by re-experiencing childhood wounds through meditation, accompanied by myself in the role of the nurturing mother providing comfort and support to the wounded inner child. That approach affirmed me in my current mothering role and provided imagery of the comfort that I was lacking in my childhood. Such duality empowered me toward self-acceptance and self-worth. Loss, grief, fear, and anxiety are considered universal states and emotions that interfere with quality of life. Finding meaning in suffering can heal pain and free energy for the pursuit of justice, peace, and joy.

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