Extended bodies: an empirical-philosophical study to women’s bodily experiences in breast cancer

Marjolein Lotte de Boer

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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In everyday life, women who have breast cancer or have had breast cancer are often described as unspoilt, feminine and energetic 'survivors'. This study found that these descriptors are inconsistent with how women actually experience their disease. Many women also face the debilitating and disfiguring effects of breast cancer. Breast prostheses and mammography devices, for example, can hinder daily functioning and sharing their experience of the disease can cause conflict and distance in a relationship. Furthermore, the term 'reconstruction' can create false expectations about reconstructive breast surgery: women will never get their 'old' breasts back. While personal blogs allow women to present themselves in a different way, there are very few public platforms that help women relate to the stories of other breast cancer patients and ascribe meaning to their disease and their changing bodies. This dissertation therefore stresses the importance of making disease experience, disability, disfigurement and damage more publicly accessible. After all, sharing these experiences is extremely important for people living with a changed body.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Maastricht University
  • Horstman, Klasien, Supervisor
  • Houwaart, Eddy, Supervisor
  • Slatman, Jenny, Co-Supervisor
Award date14 Dec 2016
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Print ISBNs9789461596277
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • breast cancer
  • women
  • disease experience
  • physicality
  • home environment

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