New Realities and Tsunamis: A Nurse's Interpretation of a Family Navigating Cancer

  • Sandip Dhaliwal University of Calgary
  • Nancy Moules University of Calgary
  • Graham McCaffrey University of Calgary


This short paper was written for a hermeneutics research course from the perspective of the first author in response to the statement “Nursing is an interpretive practice.” A narrative account of caring for a young adult with hematologic cancer and his mother is provided to offer understanding on how cancer is an interpreted experience with a relational backdrop of family, and nursing is an interpretive practice situated within this relational complexity. Gadamer’s ideas around horizon of understanding, experience, and conversation are utilized to present a nurse’s interpretation of this family navigating the “new realities and tsunamis” and overturning of their lives by hematologic cancer. Given the interpretive nature of understanding in nursing work with families, it is proposed that hermeneutics, as an interpretive inquiry, offers a meaningful approach to understand family experiences of cancer in nursing research.