There is now a growing literature on the ways that people live with and adjust to chronic illnesses of various kinds (for reviews, see Anderson and Bury 1988; Bury 1991; Roth and Conrad 1987). To suffer from a chronic illness is to be faced with a situation in which, depending upon the nature of the disease, people continue to live a more or less normal existence. One of the key directions in research to date has addressed the question of the basic strategies people use in order that they might live as normal a life as possible (Strauss 1975; Corbin and Strauss 1987). The implied stigma of illness requires that some sufferers employ a range of tactics either to hide or to modify differences, so that they might be accepted as fully capable participants in social life. To fall short of such acceptance, either through the nature of the disease manifestations (e.g. rectal cancer [MacDonald 1988]) or through being judged as failing to bear one’s illness properly, is to risk being deemed ‘less of a person’. The chronically ill are subject to cultural expectations that, in their evaluation of the personal and social status of the afflicted, can be said to be the expression of a public morality.