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Ignoring Symptoms

The Process of Normalising Sensory Experiences after Cancer

Tone Seppola-Edvardsen and Mette Bech Risør

Keywords: cancer; coping; everyday life; late effects; sensation; symptoms; uncertainty

This article explores the process of interpreting bodily sensations after completed cancer treatment. We base our analysis on repeated interviews over a period of 12 months with eight participants who had different cancer diagnoses. By using the concepts of ‘sensa- tion schemas’ and ‘sensation scripts’, we explore how sensation schemas of cancer dominated in the first period, while schemas of late effects and reduced tolerance for daily life activities gradually became more important as time went by. Scripts, or actions taken to reduce unpleas- ant sensations, gradually turned from seeking medical advice and check-ups to ignoring and waiting for it to go away. Later, adapting daily life to the new health situation became promi- nent, such as balancing rest and activity to avoid becoming exhausted.


Seppola-Edvardsen, Tone - University of Tromsø

Risør, Mette Bech - The Arctic University of Norway