Purpose: To explore the interrelationship of two challenging aspects of the cancer experience: the diagnosis and experience of younger women living with multiple myeloma, and their geographical disadvantage. Method: A cross-sectional retrospective qualitative methodology was employed. Five women with dependent children and a diagnosis of myeloma, living in rural and regional Australia, were interviewed using a semi-structured technique. Interpretative phenomenological analysis provided the foundation for the data analysis and interpretation. Results: The central concept of disease isolation emerged from the data and captured the interrelationship of the experience of living with a rare cancer, while living in a rural and regional area of Australia. Three strong themes emerged: 1) isolation due to living with a rare cancer, 2) isolation within the myeloma population, and 3) isolation due to the disease effects and treatment. In the context of these results, isolation depicted the sense of being alone or separated, both physically and psychologically, from potential sources of support, and of being different from others (both patients with cancer and patients with myeloma), which presented barriers to accessing support. Conclusion: The interrelationship of geographical isolation and living with multiple myeloma underpins the core issues relating to the main themes. Understanding the issues confronting younger women with myeloma living in rural and regional of Australia may assist health professionals to improve support for women in this situation.
- Rural and regional