Topping, Annie (2001) Being there for women : the work of breast care nurses. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Breast cancer is a major health challenge. It is also is a high profile disease with
extraordinary media attention that places an immense burden on women, families,
children and health resources. Over the last two decades the way in which women
experience breast cancer has undergone significant changes. The implementation of
the National Health Service Breast Screening Programme, development of specialist
multidisciplinary teams, and greater involvement of women in decision making
surrounding treatment choice are just some of these changes. A discrete clinical nurse
specialism has developed to provide support and information to women undergoing
treatment and care for breast cancer.

This multi-method two staged study explored the work of breast care nurses
supporting women with breast cancer. The particular focus was on the body image
and sexuality dimensions of the breast cancer experience. Firstly, a postal survey
using modified versions of the Sex Knowledge and Attitude Test (Lief and Reed
1972) and the Williams-Wilson Sexuality Survey instrument (Wilson and Williams
1989) was undertaken and completed by breast care nurses (n=100) across England.
Secondly, adopting an interpretative perspective, breast care nurses (n=29), recruited
via the earlier survey participated in focused conversational interviews. In addition a
secondary analysis of two focus group interviews with women breast cancer patients
(n=14), and a further two individual interviews with lesbian women were undertaken.
The audio taped data was analysed using a thematic approach assisted by ATLAS.ti
4.1 qualitative software (Muhr 1996).

Three major themes: the delivery of breast cancer care, knowing women, and the
territory of breast care nursing were developed. The theme of knowing women was
connected with three sub themes titled: authenticity and domesticity, moral journeys,
and the (in)visibility of lesbian women. The thematic analysis presents a critical
account of contemporary breast care nursing in the endeavour of "being there for

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