Women with breast cancer and their living in and through discourses : a feminist postmodern study




Bassett-Smith, Joan L.

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This feminist postmodern praxis oriented research investigates the journey and discourses of women living with breast cancer. This study explores the ways in which discourses and health care practices are implicated in relations of power, and how these discourses and practices inter-relate and inform each other. Alternative possibilities for creating new discourses and practices for women living with breast cancer are also examined in the study. Seventeen women in various stages of being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer participated in two years of individual interviews, group discussions, and informal conversations with the researcher. Participants also read and responded to the emerging construction of the dissertation and contributed pieces of original writing that they had created over the course of their journey with breast cancer. This research uncovers and illuminates the ways in which participants interpret biomedical discourse and position themselves in biomedical and other discourses. It also fosters an understanding about the ways in which women's discourses, sense of agency, power, and identity are impacted as they traverse their journey with breast cancer. In fore-grounding women's discourses, the differences between a woman's personal illness story and her journey with breast cancer and the biomedical emphases on the disease diagnosis and treatment trajectory are highlighted. An examination of women's discourses also illuminates the various ways that women may be positioned by biomedical discourse, position themselves and others, and as well, resist and reposition themselves in relationships. These understandings direct our attention to the strengths and capacities of women and the manner in which they exercise personal and collective agency. This research is unique in it's emphases on illuminating women's discourses about living with breast cancer and on the professional, social, historical and institutional discourses that shape experiences for women. Highlighting a woman's journey with breast cancer, her own discourses, exercise of agency and development of transformative knowledge provides health care professionals with an insider's view. Knowledge of health care practices and relationships in the care of women with breast cancer are useful in envisioning ways of practicing to support and strengthen women's construction of a cogent illness journey and ability to participate in their care in meaningful ways.



Breast, Cancer, Psychological aspects