Norway Strand

In Norway in 2012, new national guidelines for surgical breast cancer treatment were implemented, introducing primary or direct reconstruction for eligible patients. This policy change was propelled by recent medical research, demonstrating the relative safety of primary reconstruction in relation to oncological treatment. There is, however, a lack of awareness of empirical research on the psychosocial aspects surrounding women’s experiences of mastectomy and reconstruction within the health sector. It is uncertain whether a prosthetic reconstruction can repair the loss of breast tissue and heal the emotional and physical trauma of breast cancer. The breast_artreconstructed contour may look like a breast to others, but will it feel like a breast to the woman? [1]

“I am not the same” implemented the first trial on expressive writing in Norway, whilst exploring women’s thoughts and feelings about various aspects of the breast cancer trajectory, and the personal and symbolic particularities surrounding this female organ.

During 2013-14, we enrolled 14 breast cancer patients in Norway.

We collect data from two samples: 1. Seven patients who have removed a breast surgically (mastectomy); 2. Seven patients who have removed a breast and received direct reconstruction (mastectomy and reconstruction during the same operation). This second stage of our study, expands on preliminary findings from seven participants from the US (2012-13).

All participants (7+7+7) received a specific instruction for expressive writing. After completing their writing, the women were interviewed about their experiences of breast cancer and the process of writing. This procedure was then repeated (personal writing, interview) one year on, allowing us to track participants over some time.

Principal Investigator:

Birgitta Haga Gripsrud (PhD), Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Research, Stavanger University Hospital

Co-researchers:

Kirsten Lode (PhD) & Professor Håvard Søiland, Stavanger University Hospital

The research is based in the Department of Research at Stavanger University Hospital, Norway. You can read more about the study here.

[1] Iris Marion Young. ‘Breasted Experience: The Look and the Feeling. In On Female Body Experience. Oxford: Oxford Uni Press. 2005: 75-96.

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