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Thinking self after bowel cancer: an embodied interpretation and art-iculation

Vandenberghe, K (2019) Thinking self after bowel cancer: an embodied interpretation and art-iculation. Doctoral thesis, Bournemouth University.

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Open Access URL: http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/33731/1/VANDENBER... (Published Version)


This study contributes to an understanding of the experience of cancer survivorship by focusing on survivors’ “comprehending” of self vis-à-vis cancer, specifically by exploring embodied dimensions of their comprehending. This approach sits within an interpretive phenomenological paradigm. It draws, in particular, on theories that are aligned with embodied existential phenomenology and enactive cognitive science. The participants in this research project were adult survivors of bowel cancer who had no active disease and were between a few months and 20 years after finishing their cancer treatment. Twelve participants were recruited via a hospital support group and a hospice social media platform. Data obtained during a previous on-the-job case study has also been included. Participants’ metaphorical comprehending of self in relation to cancer, their experiences with medical consultants, and general understandings of self were explored during explorative sessions. Those were semi-structured and also involved the use of creative materials. The sessions were audio-recorded and non-verbal data were photographed. The data inquiry process consisted of highlighting and comparing the body schematic structure of participants’ metaphors (numbering 20), followed by an ordering of the latter according to a body developmental logic. This resulted in the construction of nine clusters of ‘self and cancer comprehending’, i.e. presenting and positioning, handling and rising, moving in space, expressing a viewpoint on the future, moving forward, surpassing and assessing, ending, registering and holding. An exploration of the role of the wider self and of the transactions with consultants in the comprehending of self vis-à-vis cancer has contributed to a more holistic and dynamic understanding. This process of ‘analytical’ inquiry was preceded by an ‘embodied’ enquiry of the data. In the literature, cancer survivorship seems to appear as a process of recovery, change, growth, liminality or framing. The findings of this study contribute to the further interpretation of previous research. The practice part of this Doctorate in Professional Practice consists of what has been called an “art-iculation” of the findings. In collaboration with an artist-painter the findings were carried forward in the shape of painted expressions of the aforementioned 20 metaphors. The paintings will be used in workshops with health care practitioners and cancer survivors with an eye on engaging empathic and actionable understanding.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: bowel cancer; cancer survivorship; process; enactive cognition; enactive hermeneutic phenomenology; research-based art
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
Divisions: Nursing & Allied Health
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2020 10:24
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2022 11:00
Supervisors: Ellis-Hill, C, Tait, D and Mojsa, J
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12578
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