Breast Cancer and Well-Being Study

BramareBy way of conclusion, this study has undertaken a qualitative exploration of womens’ experiences of breast cancer and well-being at an environmental retreat. Space, place, the story and gift of OTIS, as well as relationships of care emerged as key factors in this study. 

The OTIS Foundation was experienced as a place of freedom to do as one pleased, unlike more structured programmes and interventions offered through health service providers and other healing centres. A stay at OTIS was not only a break from everyday life and medical regimes, OTIS was seen a place of rest, reflection and reconnection.

Importantly, unlike a holiday or conventional health spa retreat, OTIS provided a nurturing environment in which to recover, heal and grieve the traumas of cancer, treatment and survival. That is, a visit to OTIS encouraged “being”, and not only “doing”.

The natural and built environments were experienced as aesthetically pleasing and relaxing. Guests made connections with the rhythms and seasons of everyday life in a natural landscape setting.

Furthermore, the built environment provided safe transition spaces to the natural environment, such as the courtyard and panoramic window-views. Beyond this, the built environment was experienced not only as physical “space”, but a meaningful place of attachment and connection.

Such meanings were realised through connections with Judy and the OTIS story; feeling valued by the gift of OTIS and the community; strengthened family and personal relationships and heightened self-awareness and identity. Psychosocial well-being was enhanced through rest, reflection and reconnection.

Thus, the concepts of space and place combined to make the OTIS Foundation a unique therapeutic landscape.

 The findings of the study were in keeping with existing therapeutic landscape literature and highlighted the Australian regional context.

Overwhelmingly, as stated above participants described OTIS as a healing environment. This has implications for health services delivery, particularly in expanding the psychosocial assessment and intervention to include therapeutic landscapes, such as The OTIS Foundation.

 This study sought to make a practice-based and scholarly contribution to contemporary understandings of cancer care. Further research could extend the present findings and expand theory and practice for working with people who have experienced a cancer diagnosis and the families and carers.

The full study can be downloaded here (PDF 23KB)

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