Background: Cancer in children causes many challenges for the family. When a refugee family experiences it, its impacts may be different and more specific considerations for care may be needed.
Aims: This study aimed to explore the experiences of Afghan mothers living in the Islamic Republic of Iran who had a child with cancer.
Methods: This was a qualitative study, conducted in 2017, of Afghan refugee women with children diagnosed with cancer and referred to a cancer referral hospital in Tehran; they were selected through purposive sampling. Face-to-face, semi-structured and in-depth interviews were conducted for data collection until data saturation was reached. Conventional content analysis was done. MAXQDA 10 was used for organizing the data.
Results: Nine Afghan mothers were interviewed. They were aged 24-44 years and the children were aged 2-9 years. A primary theme called "passive acceptor" was found with five subthemes: chronic suffering, health issues, lack of skills, maladaptive coping and enthusiasm. The mothers were struggling to cope with the challenges of caring for a child with cancer both financially, physically and emotionally.
Conclusion: In spite of many issues in common with similar groups in other countries, Afghan mothers appear to need to greater assistance when it comes to seeking help and understanding for the care for their child with cancer, possibly because of cultural barriers to self-empowerment. Tailored care plans are recommended for Afghan refugee mothers in the Islamic Republic of Iran.