Spoiled Identities: Women’s Experiences After Mastectomy
Breast cancer can disrupt the taken-for-granted nature of embodiment, leaving women with much uncertainty throughout diagnosis, acute care and beyond. Upon receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer, the body becomes suspect. Further, dominant discourses provide women with a limited repertoire with which to understand and make sense of negative aspects of breast cancer and embodiment. This chapter explores the experiences of women who have had breast cancer in order to further understanding of ‘spoiled identities’ resulting from this illness. Data were gathered in a qualitative study. Interpretation specific to this chapter focuses on issues of embodiment, using Julia Kristeva’s work as a starting point. Exploring the ways in which the body becomes abjectly experienced may illuminate previously unexamined elements of breast cancer survivorship, thus furthering knowledge about the meaning of illness for women.