Vividly showcasing diverse voices and experiences, this book illuminates an all-too-common experience by exploring how women respond to a diagnosis of breast cancer. Drawing from interviews in which women describe their journeys from diagnosis through treatment and recovery, Julia A. Ericksen explores topics ranging from women's trust in their doctors to their feelings about appearance and sexuality. She includes the experiences of women who do not put their faith in traditional medicine as well as those who do, and she takes a look at the long-term consequences of this disease. What emerges from her powerful and often moving account is a compelling picture of how cultural messages about breast cancer shape women's ideas about their illness, how breast cancer affects their relationships with friends and family, why some of them become activists, and more. Ericksen, herself a breast cancer survivor, has written an accessible book that reveals much about the ways in which we narrate our illnesses and about how these narratives shape the paths we travel once diagnosed.
List of Tables
1. Telling Stories
2. Following the Doctors’ Orders
3. Patients and Doctors as Partners
4. Faith in the Ultimate Authority
5. Opposing the Mainstream
6. The Assault on the Breast
7. Bodies after Cancer
8. Breast Cancer Activism, Education, and Support
Julia A. Ericksen is Professor of Sociology at Temple University and author, with Sally Steffen, of Kiss and Tell: Surveying Sex in the Twentieth Century.
“Highly readable, a fine example of ethnographically based microsociology.”—E.L. Maher Choice
“A substantial contribution . . . Rich and informed by frequent references to important research.”—Kirsten Schou Journal Of Health Psych
"Taking Charge of Breast Cancer
incorporates many components of the experience of breast cancer, from personal illness to political economic factors. Based on her very extensive data from interviews and content analysis, Ericksen's fine writing offers a powerful narrative approach that focuses on stages of awareness and action. In the process she eloquently addresses the physical and emotional consequences of breast surgery, changes in body and sexuality, and activism. This is a major contribution to understanding the politics and experience of breast cancer."—Phil Brown, Brown University