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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The development of illness narrative in a structured cancer group Wade, Spencer

Abstract

How does an illness narrative develop in a structured cancer group? By using narrative analysis, informed by discourse analysis, this qualitative research project illuminated this endeavour by charting the development and evolution of illness narrative in a structured cancer group. What evolved from the participants' verbal interactions was an overarching narrative of struggle that is primarily moral in nature. This overarching narrative of struggle evolved from the nine themes that emerged from the participants' verbal interactions. These nine themes are getting "whackedon- the-side-of-the head", "information's power", "butchers" and "angels", "the guilt train", "how a::::re you?", the "wake-up call", making a "breakthrough", the "hard work" of cancer, and the "gift-of-cancer". The participants co-constructed this narrative by drawing upon a variety of linguistic resources and interpretative practices as they negotiated the moral challenges of their relationships with self and the larger social sphere, brought forth by their status and experiences as individuals with cancer. This study also demonstrated that what are commonly referred to as discourses are used flexibly in the participants' moral struggles. By examining how group participants use language, perspectives on how coping is accomplished are broadened beyond traditional notions of the acquisition of coping skills.

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