Social Support for Breast Cancer Management Among Portuguese-Speaking Immigrant Women

Sepali Guruge, Christine Maheu, Margareth Santos Zanchetta, Francyelle Fernandez, Lorena Baku


Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer among women in Canada. Much health sciences research has examined this topic. The importance of formal and informal social support in managing breast cancer has received particular attention, but research with immigrant women has been limited. This article presents the findings of an applied ethnographic study conducted in Toronto, Canada, with 12 Portuguese-speaking women from Brazil, Portugal, and Angola about their need for, access to, and use of social support in the management of breast cancer. The key findings pertain to cancer-related fears and stigma that restrict access to and use of informal social support, barriers to obtaining formal social support, and women's resilience in the context of limited informal and formal social support. Implications for healthcare providers are presented at micro, meso, and macro levels.

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