Living with cancer - a study of five pathographies.
The last 20 years, an increasing number of autobiographical books about illness experiences have been published, and some refer to such literature as pathographies . I wanted to find out whether this kind of literature could be useful for doctors and if so in what way. When reading I concentrated on the writer s motivation for writing? How is their experiences with the health care system portrayed? How do they experience their illness, and how do they reflect in issues related to death and dying?
The aim of this thesis is to explore these questions. I have studied five pathographies , and I have chosen to focus on books written by patients with cancer or by family members of cancer patients.
I found that the books are very different with respect to the issues I explored and in the themes they address. It is therefore difficult to make any generalisations that are valid for all the books I studied. Nevertheless, it is certain that autobiographical books on illness gives the reader valuable information about how individuals may experience life with cancer. Some of the books even give concrete advice for doctors.
By displaying different kinds of reactions and thoughts patients may have when being confronted with serious illness, pathographies can contribute to making doctors better prepared to meet real patients. This study suggests that an important purpose of pathographies are fulfilled: to let the patient s voice be heard.