Purpose The aim of this study was to investigate the implications of the alterations to lifestyle of cancer patients, from the onset of abnormal symptoms, followed by diagnosis and treatment, and then subsequent acceptance of the condition. Seven cancer patients from medical centers in Taiwan participated in the study. Method Exploratory, qualitative study based on grounded theory methods. Each participated in a semi-structured interview with open-ended questions. All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. Qualitative content analysis was used for the data. Results Three themes emerged from the data analysis to exhibit the critical coping processes of the cancer patients. These included negative feelings, self-adjustment and self-reinterpretation. Conclusion According to the results this study concluded that the coping processes used by some cancer sufferers enables them to draw upon various strengths and strategies to develop particular attitudes and skills to assist them to live with cancer. Overall, the findings tend to support the developmental interpretation, although the contextual interpretation also applies.