Ruddy, Michael Patrick Joseph (2017) A Discursive Analysis of Cancer Survivors' Identities. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis explores how people who have experienced cancer construct themselves in talk of their experience of the illness. Semi structured interviews with six adults who had completed cancer treatment and were considered to be cancer free or in remission were analysed using a discursive psychological approach. Cancer has been characterised as being both an acute and chronic illness. The sequelae of treatment and uncertainty over possible recurrence of the disease mean that there is not a discrete point at which one ceases to be a cancer patient. As such the challenges to identities that may arise following a cancer diagnosis can be considered different to those that may arise following other serious illnesses. Cancer also carries with it cultural associations about the culpability of the patient for their illness, as well as a number of culturally legitimate narratives that are centred around metaphors of heroic battles or journeys of self discovery. Previous research has suggested that disparity between the identity challenges being faced by the individual with cancer and the identities into which others may altercast them into can result in cancer patients and survivors not receiving the support that they need. The analysis revealed that a consistent feature of the accounts was maintaining continuity between pre- and postcancer identities. Where post cancer changes were acknowledged these were assimilated into pre-cancer identities. Contrary to some previous research none of the participants oriented to the identity of being a cancer survivor. This finding is discussed in relation to methodological differences between the current and previous research and in relation the identity concerns present the participants' talk. I also discuss the constraints that discourses of austerity politics place on the identities available to cancer survivors who find themselves unable to work following treatment.

FINAL THESIS - Ruddy.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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