Remapping the body: Learning to eat again after surgery for esophageal cancer

D Wainwright, J L Donovan, V Kavadas, H Cramer, J M Blazeby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Surgery for esophageal cancer offers the hope of cure but might impair quality of life. The operation removes tumors obstructing the esophagus but frequently leaves patients with eating difficulties, leading to weight loss. Maintaining or increasing body weight is important to many patients, both as a means of returning to "normal" and as a means of rejecting the identity of the terminal cancer patient, but surgery radically alters embodied sensations of hunger, satiety, swallowing, taste, and smell, rendering the previously taken-for-granted experience of eating unfamiliar and alien. Successful recovery depends on patients' learning how to eat again. This entails familiarization with physiological changes but also coming to terms with the social consequences of spoiled identity. The authors report findings from in-depth interviews with 11 esophageal cancer patients, documenting their experiences as they struggle to achieve a process of adaptation that is at once physiological, psychological, and social.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-771
Number of pages13
JournalQualitative Health Research
Volume17
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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