Living on: an exploration of healthful cancer survivorship among grey
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Aim: To explore the experiences of grey nomads living with a diagnosis of cancer.
Background: Cancer is primarily both a life-limiting and a chronic condition of ageing and older people. Older people, however, are not a homogeneous group; there are several generations and many different groups to be considered. Grey nomads are one such group and are characterised as being retired and travelling domestically for extended periods of time, usually in a caravan or motorhome.
Design: Prospective qualitative phase of a larger, sequential, explanatory, mixed-methods project.
Methods: A series of 14 semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted over six months in 2016 with 14 self-identified grey nomads living with a diagnosis of cancer. Interviews were analysed using thematic analysis.
Results/Findings: Participants travelled despite of, and because of, their cancer diagnosis. These two key themes, with their associated sub-themes, explain how older people incorporated their cancer-related work, that is to say, managing their cancer-related followup and treatment health needs into their travelling life; how they normalised it; and how they developed strategies for healthful survivorship.
Conclusion: Participants were living healthfully in that they were living a lifestyle that promoted their well-being. Participants developed strategies in response to their changed environment and thus created new capacity to support what they wanted to do. Despite being cancer survivors — some of whom were undergoing active treatment — participants gained ‘healthfulness’ through their chosen nomadic lifestyle.