Confrontation with a life-threatening disease like cancer can evoke existential distress, which can trigger a search for meaning in people after having survived this disease.
Most frequently mentioned meaning making themes were relationships and experiences. We found that, in general, cancer survivors experienced enhanced meaning after cancer through relationships, experiences, resilience, goal-orientation and leaving a legacy. Some participants, however, also said to have (also) experienced a loss of meaning in their lives through experiences, social roles, relationships and uncertainties about the future.
The results indicated that there is a group of cancer survivors that has succeeded in meaning making efforts, and experienced sometimes even more meaning in life than before diagnosis, while there is also a considerable group of survivors that struggled with meaning making and has an unmet need for help with that. The results of this study contribute to develop a meaning centered intervention for cancer survivors.