Sharing or not sharing? Balancing uncertainties after cancer in urban Norway
In this article we explore the uncertainties of living in the aftermath of cancer treatment within the context of the Norwegian welfare state. Serious illnesses confront people with the uncertainty of life itself. We suggest that managing this form of existential uncertainty is inherently a social process and their considerations of whether or not to share worries are part of the everyday management of social relationships. We refer to this process of managing uncertainty and the social processes intrinsic to it as an act of ‘balancing’. We draw on data from repeated interviews with eight former cancer patients in a Northern Norwegian city carried between January 2014 and January 2015. Through our inquiry into who was involved in the participants’ interpretation of bodily sensations, health and care seeking, we found that the participants were keeping most of their uncertainties to themselves. Their main argument was that they did not want to make others worry unnecessarily. On the other hand, participants talked about the need and expectation that relevant others had to be informed and involved and the participants also described needing an outlet through being able to share worries. These needs and concerns were balanced within a wish to maintain ‘normal everyday life’ as far as possible.
Manuscript. Published version available in Health, Risk & Society, 18:7-8, 367-384, doi 10.1080/13698575.2016.1262943