Narratives and healing: exploring one family's stories of cancer survivorship.


This study investigates the narratives of one couple who lived through life-changing events following a cancer diagnosis. The narratives of the cancer survivor and her husband are explored as they struggle to cope with their situation, provide support for one another, and consider their changing personal identities. This research addresses the communication dilemmas that often occur when family members, friends, and providers do not know how to respond to an individual diagnosed with cancer. The rationale for this study is threefold. First, this study advocates the need for learning about the composition of survivor identities over the course of a life-threatening illness. Second, this study seeks to understand how illness survivors and their family members use narratives as a method of communicating their changing identities. Finally, communicating about illness is often perceived as 'taboo', and this study may encourage others to be a part of the participants' stories and learn more about why those stories are often concealed. We learn from these three narratives that supportive relationships are central to healing and that it is through communication among family members that identities are composed and recomposed throughout the illness journey. This research affects communication, social support, identity, and emotion literature and is aligned with human appraisal theories as well. Finally, it offers insights into the ways in which we talk about, hear about, and learn about illness.

Citations per Year

Citation Velocity: 7

Averaging 7 citations per year over the last 3 years.

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Cite this paper

@article{Anderson2003NarrativesAH, title={Narratives and healing: exploring one family's stories of cancer survivorship.}, author={Jennifer Ott Anderson and Patricia Geist Martin}, journal={Health communication}, year={2003}, volume={15 2}, pages={133-43} }