Constructing Personal and Couple Narratives in Late Stage Cancer: A Narrative Analysis

Prof Doc Thesis

Anthias, Louise 2015. Constructing Personal and Couple Narratives in Late Stage Cancer: A Narrative Analysis. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
AuthorsAnthias, Louise
TypeProf Doc Thesis

An increasing number of people with terminal cancer are being cared for at
home, often by their partner. This study explores the identity, experiences and
relationships of people caring for their partner at the end of life and how they
construct their experience through personal and couple narratives. It draws
upon dialogical approaches to narrative analysis to focus on caring partners
and the care relationship. Six participants were recruited for the study. Two
methods of data collection are used: narrative interviews and journals.
Following individual case analysis, two methods of cross-narrative analysis
are used: an analysis of narrative themes and an identification of narrative
The key findings can be summarised as follows. First, in the period since their
partner's terminal prognosis, participants sustained and reconstructed self and
couple relationship narratives. These narratives aided the construction of
meaning and coherence at a time of major biographical disruption: the
anticipated loss of a partner. Second, the study highlights the complexity of
spoken and unspoken narratives in terminal cancer and how these relate to
individual and couple identities. Third, a typology of archetypal narratives
based upon the data is identified. The blow-by-blow narratives illustrate how
participants sought to construct coherence and meaning in the illness story,
while champion and resilience narratives demonstrate how participants
utilised positive self and relational narratives to manage a time of biographical
disruption. The study highlights how this narrative approach can enhance
understanding of the experiences and identities of people caring for a
terminally ill partner.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintJul 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited03 Aug 2016
Publisher's version
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