Reconstructing experience of childhood cancer: a narrative inquiry
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Many childhood cancer survivors experience long-term effects from their illness long after their treatments are over. In order to more fully understand the impact these effects have on a young person’s life, there is a need for more patient illness narratives. Using Connelly and Clandinin’s Narrative Inquiry methodology, I explored the experience of a young adult survivor of childhood cancer. My co-participant and I engaged in narrative interviews and creative self-expression activities. To reconstruct and critically examine the story of her childhood cancer experience, I used two theoretical frameworks, Erikson’s (1968) Psychosocial Stages of Development and Cellular Memory, based on Porges’ Polyvagal Theory (1995). The narrative patterns that emerge are: relationships, identity and the embodied experience. The co-participant’s story is re-presented in a letter, accompanied by a poem, addressed to healthcare professionals. Implications for healthcare practice include the need for increased sensitivity to patient’s lived experience of the illness. More specifically, there is a need for further education of healthcare professionals on the long-term effects of childhood cancer that include mind-body-spirit.