Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Blair Thompson (Director), Dr. Jennifer Mize Smith, Dr. Sally Ray

Degree Program

Department of Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The American Cancer Society estimates nearly 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Existing on cancer and its effects on family communication indicate there are few things that have the potential to shake a family to its core like a serious illness (Anderson & Geist Martin, 2003; Gotcher, 1993; Northouse, 2005; Sherman & Simonton, 2001). Communication is one of the most important elements in determining and influencing families' emotions, patients' quality of life, patient care, family relationships and caregiver stress (Beach, 2001).

The mother-daughter dyad represents one of the most significant relationships to analyze with respect to the impact cancer has within the family since mothers are typically the primary role models for their daughters (Miller, 1995). Using interviews with mother/daughter dyads, this study seeks to examine changes in communication between mothers and daughters following the mother's cancer diagnosis. The mother-daughter dyad is of most interest in this study for several reasons, most notably that this relationship is the “first dyadic relationship a female child has” (Bishop, 1992, p. 58); additionally, mothers are typically the primary role models for their daughters (Miller, 1995). This study aims to shed light on the relational changes that occur following a cancer diagnosis.


Communication | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication