Family members and cancer patients routinely talk about and through cancer on the telephone. Yet little is known about the social organization of these conversations and how cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis impact everyday living. The culmination of a decade of research, this volume offers close examination of the first natural history of one family's 13 month journey through a wife/mother/sister's terminal cancer. From diagnosis through death of a loved one, analysis of these 61 family phone recordings (and transcriptions) offers primal insights about the fundamental importance of communication.
Family members continually rely on one another when navigating through complex social, emotional, technical, and biomedical concerns associated with cancer: Updating and assessing emerging news, being stoic, claiming and defending knowledge, reporting and responding to ongoing troubles, making airline reservations, adjusting to stable yet ambiguous health circumstances, displaying frustration, commiserating, maintaining a 'state of readiness', evaluating doctors and medical care, telling and retelling stories, being humorous and playful, and constructing hope as an alternative to despair. These interactions reveal no small measures of personal challenges, emotional turmoil, humorous exchanges, endearing actions, and resolute efforts to remain hopeful in the progressive face of bad cancer news. Moments such as these are extraordinary and mundane, foreign yet strikingly familiar to all who have encountered them when matters of illness, disease, life, and death move to the forefront and require our attention.
Readers will not only gain enhanced understandings of ordinary human interactions, but a deep appreciation for managing the trials, tribulations, hopes and triumphs of cancer - and all human illness journeys shaped by communication in everyday life.