Remaking the Self in Cancer Survivorship: Pleasure, Creativity and Embodiment.
Half of us will develop cancer in our lifetime. Advances in detection and treatment are turning cancers into “chronic rather than terminal conditions” (Kerr & Cunningham-Burley 2015). With survival rates improving and the median age at diagnosis reducing each year, research into survivorship is a necessary and growing field. Studies show that the impact on sexuality in people living with and beyond cancer remains the treatment burden least addressed or resolved (Charif et al 2016), despite the importance of sexual wellbeing to quality of life (Ussher et al 2012). Existing research examining the impact of cancer on sexual wellbeing pays little attention to the role of social and cultural discourse on sex and gender in shaping embodied experiences of sexuality (Parton et al 2017), with studies employing measures drawn from heteronormative, androcentric constructs of sexual function (Bober et al 2019).
This interdisciplinary project will employ arts-based research methods, within a queer, feminist methodological framework. Multi-modal research, including research interviews, creative workshops, and wider cancer-community participation will elicit data on somatic and affective constructions of sexuality in a cohort of UK-based people who have finished active cancer treatment for one of the group of cancers typically deemed to be ‘women’s cancers’, which include breast and gynaecological cancers such as cervical, ovarian and uterine. The project seeks to uncover voices often erased by cancer culture and the norms of survivorship research, and will centre pleasure in its exploration of sexual selfhood post-cancer.
Substack – https://carmelcardona.substack.com/
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/carmelcardona/
Dr Amy Hinterberger