Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

8-2010

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis

Degree Title

Master of Science in Exercise and Sport Studies, Behavioral Studies

Department

Kinesiology

Major Advisor

Lynda Ransdell, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Shelley Lucas, Ph.D.

Abstract

In 2007, 11.7 million people in the United States were living with a cancer diagnosis. Specifically, 12 in every 100,000 Americans are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. The five year survival rate of pancreatic cancer in the United States is only 5.6% (National Cancer Institute, 2007). In addition to traditional pharmacological treatments, physical activity has been increasingly used to help individuals successfully cope with cancer. One area that has not been studied extensively is the use of sport psychology techniques to help athletes cope with cancer. It is possible that these techniques, learned by elite athletes during their careers, can be used during cancer treatment. This case study offers a detailed picture of an elite female track cyclist undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer. Information was gathered during a semi-structured taped interview session and was analyzed using the triangulation process to determine if and how athletic performance strategies were incorporated during cancer treatment. The results of this qualitative research study indicate ten primary strategies were used by this athlete. This athlete’s particular approach to cancer treatment seemed to parallel her approach to elite competition. These findings indicate a promising area for future research on effective sport psychology-related coping skills for cancer patients.

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