Background: Offering the best level of comfort and quality of life as possible is one of the goals of nursing care for cancer patients and their family, for both the diagnosis and the treatment of cancer still causes great apprehension and suffering. Purpose: Understanding the effects of cancer and its treatment on the different dimensions of the patients’ life. Methods: Descriptive study, developed under a qualitative approach, carried out from June to August 2005 with cancer patients of the Chemotherapy Ambulatory of the São Paulo Hospital, in São Paulo, Brazil. A semi-structured interview form was used for data collection and content analysis was applied in order to identify the thematic units. Results: Three themes emerged from patients’ reports: suffering the disease’s shock; re-dimensioning life; and feeling the need of a sensitive care. Conclusion: The results reinforce the need of implementing the humanization principles of nursing care when assisting cancer patients and their families.
Keywords: Oncology nursing; chemotherapy; nursing care; quality of life.