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Table 3 Themes and subthemes regarding demands and capabilites of mothers affected by cancer (n = 29) and healthy fathers (n = 10)

From: When a mother has cancer: strains and resources of affected families from the mother’s and father’s perspective - a qualitative study

  Mothers with cancer (n = 29) Healthy fathers (n = 10)
Demands
 General impact of cancer
  Immediate consequences of diagnosis and treatment (e.g. shock of diagnosis, effects of treatment and diagnosis) 29 10
  Practical and social changes (e.g. temporary job changes, daily routines, loss of friends) 27 10
  Strong emotions (e.g. loss of control, fears, uncertainty) 28 7
 Strains/Stressors regarding the parental role
  Changes of the self-concept as a parent (e.g. other family roles, attachment) 20 9
  Feelings of guilt 18 1
  Fears and concerns about the children (e.g. emotional consequences for children) 26 7
  Communication about the disease 18 7
  Increase of responsibilities and pressure (e.g. balancing multiple needs, work, time for kids) 10 10
 Strains/stressors for the children
  Confrontation with disease and consequences (e.g. physical changes of mother, treatment) 22 9
  Behavioral changes (e.g. school problems, withdrawal) 23 6
  Fears and concerns/strong emotions (e.g. uncertainty, fear to lose the mother) 20 3
  Seeing the vulnerability of the parents (e.g. parents crying, parents being helpless) 21 4
  Loss of normal life and activities (e.g. daily routines, temporary loss of closest attachment figure) 15 4
Capabilities
 External resources
  Support network (e.g. friends, peers, school) 29 10
  Competent medical staff 12 4
  Flexible working hours 7 9
  Financial security 3
  Children’s books or broschures 7
 Families resources and coping strategies
  Family time (e.g. routines, activities) 26 9
  Children themselves 24 9
  Open communication 18 5
  Maintaining daily life 15 7
  Emotional support from partner and family/strong relationship 12 3
  Family cohesion 9 5
  Flexible role division 8 5
 Intrapersonal resources and coping strategies
  Time for oneself 21 4
  Small aims for the future 10 5
  Self-efficacy 10 2
  Optimism/Positive attitude 9 4
  Spirituality 5