Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Stephanie Felgoise, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Susan M. Panichelli Mindel, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Barbara Golden, Psy.D., ABPP

Third Advisor

Colleen Cadigan, Psy.D.


Adolescence and young adulthood are peak periods for the attainment of numerous physical and psychosocial developmental milestones. A cancer diagnosis during this time can disrupt the achievement of developmental milestones and have significant impacts on Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) physical, emotional, social, and academic wellbeing. Coping with the uncertainty of cancer treatment can be particularly daunting for AYAs, as they strive to maintain a sense of normalcy amidst the disruptions to their daily routines and expectations. Moreover, changes to daily routines and expectations are found to cause periods of isolation and significant changes to social relationships between cancer survivors and their healthy peers. Despite the abundance of literature on pediatric cancer, AYAs are a unique population that are largely understudied and underserved. The purpose of this study was to further examine the social experiences of AYAs with cancer. A qualitative research design was used to explore the impacts of a cancer diagnosis, and the consequential treatment, on social connectedness. The participants in this study were AYAs ages 13 to 25, who were diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 13 to 17 years old. Each participant participated in a single semi structured interview that focused on various support networks including peers, family, school, and extracurricular activities. Results revealed that participants experienced both positive and negative impacts to their social lives. Despite various adverse impacts, many participants reported experiencing post-traumatic growth and resiliency following diagnosis and treatment helping them to foster a better outlook on life and perceived increased connectedness to their friends.

Included in

Psychology Commons