chapter  9
From Part to Whole: Gender Roles and Health Practices in the Experience of Breast Cancer in Northeast Brazil
Pages 16

Suffering is the central experience that underlies the responses of coping and caring. A diagnosis of cancer is potentially life altering as individuals must readjust their concepts of self and respond to the shifting labels attached to them by family, friends, co-workers and medical personnel. Bury (1982) was the fi rst to suggest that biographical disruption, such as that caused by chronic illness, lies at the heart of suffering because it causes a threat to the individual’s established self-image, sense of agency and vision of the future. Suffering emerges from the meaning that individuals in particular contexts assign to the importance of such disruptions and the extent to which these are viewed as causing pain or loss. Bell (2012) fi nds that psycho-oncology in the United States and Canada is moving toward a view of cancer as benefi - cial trauma because it paves the way for those who experience suffering to undergo a positive transformation and become better selves.