Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Kristina B. Hood

Second Advisor

Katherine Y. Tossas

Third Advisor

Kellie Carlyle

Fourth Advisor

Nicole Corley

Fifth Advisor

Fantasy Lozada

Sixth Advisor

Gwendolyn Singleton


Highly concentrated rates of breast cancer cases experienced by Charles City County, Virginia residents is reflective of breast cancer disparities among American Indian and Alaska Native women nationally. The current literature highlights a crucial need for increased empirical research, especially qualitative, to better understand American Indian women’s breast cancer burden. As such, the current study sought to directly fill this gap by utilizing an interpretative phenomenological approach (Smith, Flower, & Larkin, 2009) guided by the Theory of Cognitive Adaptation (Taylor, 1983) to better understand breast cancer-related experiences and perceptions among Chickahominy Indian Tribal women (N=5) in rural Charles City County, Virginia through semi-structured interviews. Five superordinate themes and eight sub-themes emerged: “I'm thinkin' it was that”: Self-referent Cancer Causal Attribution (lifestyle factors and environmental exposures); “We see something”: Breast Cancer Mode of Detection; “The ball was rolling”: Breast Cancer Treatment Experiences (detection-through-treatment timeline and adverse treatment-related side effects); “This doctor's so much better”: Experiences with Breast Cancer Medical Care Team (medical care team identification process and patient-provider communication); and “I have an excellent support system”: Significance of Social Support (familial support and communal support). Findings from the current study highlight potential educational opportunities to ensure accurate information transference and have multiple clinical, behavioral, and social implications for targeted intervention and support needs. Overall, the present study serves as a building block for future works to expound upon and dive deeper into understanding American Indian women’s experiences with breast cancer which is critical in the continued fight towards cancer health equity.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission


Available for download on Wednesday, August 09, 2028