The purpose of this study was to identify a theoretical construct for the process that Taiwanese parents go through during their child's illness with cancer. Grounded theory methodology was used to gain insight into the parental responses to their child's devastating illness. One core category with five distinct components emerged from the data as parents developed their ability to endure the distress of caring for a child with cancer. "Coming to terms" was the core category. The five distinct components were as follows: confrontation of reality, management of treatments, cognitive/affective shifting, recognition of the situation, and adjusting appropriately. For the parents of those children whose illness proceeded with few complications and those children who had been successfully treated, these components had a sequential pattern. However, for parents of those children whose illnesses were more complicated, changes in clinical status occurred in rapid succession, or simultaneously. Emotional responses of these parents were dynamic; the stages were less obvious and not sequential.
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