International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

Bearing the Burden of Cancer and Financial Stress: A Pilot Study on Meaning-Making

Maria Chi

NYU Langone Health’s Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center


The double burden of cancer and financial hardship may provoke an existential crisis for many people, as both physical and economic survival are threatened. There is ample evidence of the harmful impact of cancer-related financial stress, also known as financial toxicity, on quality of life. A separate body of literature exists for the positive effects of meaning-focused coping and meaning-making interventions on emotional well-being in people with cancer. However, there is a lack of research into the potential relationship between meaning-making and the ability to cope with cancer-related financial hardship. The present paper identifies findings from a pilot study whose purpose was to explore possible connections between financial toxicity and patients’ ability to make or find meaning in their lives. A typology of coping emerged from qualitative focus group data that highlighted the co-existence of the meaning-making process with both cancer and financial stress.

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