Aging is associated with greater incidence of disease and illness, including cancers. Extensive literature reports incidence, prevalence, and treatment of cancers in older individuals. The subjective perceptions of older individuals undergoing the experience of cancer remain largely unknown. The case-study reported in this article is derived from a larger study whose aim was to investigate the experiences of older people of living with cancer. Data were generated using narrative interviews with 20 individuals aged 76-87 diagnosed with one of four common cancers. Interview data were analysed using the concept of the “illness trajectory” (Corbin & Strauss, 1988). In this article I present a single narrative revealing a detailed and nuanced progression of events and reactions during the experience of cancer. The cancer story reported here is interpreted as a restitution narrative (Frank, 1995) in which the teller reports movement from an altered status (a damaged body) towards recovery and a return to “normal” (a body restored to health). Some features of this story show health care practitioners and services working effectively to provide treatment and care, but other elements of this individual narrative suggest that some outstanding challenges remain to provide the best care for elders with cancer.


Cancer, Illness Cancer, Illness Trajectory, Biographical-Narrative Interpretive Method, Restitution, Narrative, Older Adults, Biographical Narrative Case-Study


Source of Funding: Macmillan Cancer Support provided financial support for this study through a Research Fellowship grant. The views expressed here are solely those of the author.

Acknowledgments: Thanks and appreciation to Professor David Clark and Professor Kate Hunt for supervision of my doctoral research; to Dr. Fadhila Mazanderani and Professor Sue Ziebland for critical commentary on drafts of this article.

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