Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 269–279 | Cite as

Punjabi Immigrant Women’s Breast Cancer Stories

  • A. Fuchsia Howard
  • Joan L. Bottorff
  • Lynda G. Balneaves
  • Sukhdev K. Grewal
Original Paper


The breast cancer experiences of Punjabi immigrant women, who represent the most populace group of South Asians in Canada, need to be understood in order to inform culturally appropriate cancer services. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore women’s stories of breast cancer in order to uncover how they made sense of their experiences. Interviews with twelve Punjabi immigrant women who had breast cancer within the last 8 years were available for this study. The four storylines that emerged from the ethnographic narrative analysis were: getting through a family crisis, dealing with just another health problem, living with never-ending fear and suffering, and learning a “lesson from God.” A minor theme, “being part of a close-knit family,” highlighted the family context as the most pronounced influence on the women’s experiences. These findings provide valuable insights into how women’s experiences of breast cancer were shaped by the intersections of culture, family, community, cancer treatments, and interactions with health care professionals.


Qualitative Narrative Breast cancer South Asian Immigrant 



This research was supported by a grant from the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance, a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Junior Scholarship to Ms. Howard, a CIHR Investigator Award to Dr. Bottorff, and a Canadian Cancer Society Research Scientist Award (supported by the NCIC Prostate Cancer Research Initiative) to Dr. Balneaves. The authors wish to thank Dr. Joy Johnson for her input and guidance in completing this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Fuchsia Howard
    • 1
  • Joan L. Bottorff
    • 2
  • Lynda G. Balneaves
    • 1
  • Sukhdev K. Grewal
    • 3
  1. 1.School of NursingUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Health and Social DevelopmentUniversity of British Columbia OkanaganKelownaCanada
  3. 3.Department of NursingLangara CollegeVancouverCanada

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