Document Type



Doctor of Education


Adult & Higher Education

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

E. Paulette Isaac-Savage, EdD


Henschke, John A.

Altoff, Wolfgang

Sanders-Thompson, Vetta


An illness, like prostate cancer, brings crisis to our experience and confuses the structure of our reality as well as disturbs our meaning which is upheld by interpretive imagery. Hence, recovery involves a learning experience that consists of a reflective, educational, and spiritual process to rebuild and reconstruct meaning through the use and transformation of our images and themes to create meaning. The purpose of the research was to investigate the meaning of the illness experience through the lens of transformational learning theory. As such, one-on-one interviews were conducted with 10 African American men who lived in large metropolitan areas in the Midwestern U.S. Each had recovered from prostate cancer. All but one of the men had surgery to remove the prostate. They ranged in age from 50s to 70s. Using thematic analysis 15 themes were identified which explained the men?s experience with prostate cancer. The concept of blessing united all 15 themes and even united their imagery. Imagery of blessing is linked to the concept of original blessing; the place of origins for ontology and epistemology. This imaged concept when translated into more Western language means that health and wellness involves issues of self-knowledge and origins. Reflection on these questions in transformational mode and in particular context can help to bring about hope and health. Although some men have died from prostate cancer, the men in this study had transformational experiences and survived. They used their experience with prostate cancer to educate other men about it. This study has implications for adult and health educators as well as physicians and pastors. Issues of education and health are clearly intertwined and, therefore, require interdisciplinary interest and cooperation.

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