PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to understand the meanings and nature of living in the world among cancer patients. The present study adopted a hermeneutic phenomenological method which was developed by van Manen. METHOD: The participants for this study were 5 men and 6 women, who were over the age of 20 with admission or a follow up visit in the medical or surgical department. Data were collected by using in-depth interviews and observations from February to September, 2007. The contents of the interviews were tape-recorded with the consent of the subject. RESULT: The essential themes that fit into the context of the 4 existential grounds of body, time, space and other people were: a body that cannot be restored, a body that endures and lives, waiting in uncertainty, a valued calculation for the living day, being in a world of invisible power, reestablishing relationships, and reflection on his or her life. CONCLUSION: These findings revealed that living in the world is affected to varying degrees by the cancer. It is important for nurses to identify and take care of disabilities and to support the reorientation in the disintegrated life situation. The result of this study can give nurses some insight into these experiences and help promote empathetic care.