Exploration of the trajectory of being a breast cancer patient through collaborative writing in imaginal dialogue
This study aims to examine my personal lived experience, as a breast cancer patient, in navigating the liminality in the trajectory of illness. It focuses on developing understanding of the complexity in the thoughts, feelings and behaviours related to the (traumatic) cancer- related events that I have encountered over the past three years since diagnosis. The methodology is collaborative writing through imaginal dialogue (CW-ID) with Arthur Frank, the author of the books “At the Will of the Body” (2002 ) and “The Wounded Storyteller” (2013 ). It opens a creative and safe space for me to make sense of the life-threatening process. I discover that CW-ID, as a research methodology, supports me, as a researcher and cancer patient, in researching how the existential vulnerability of human beings is encountered and negotiated in the trajectory of illness. Surprisingly, CW-ID also manifests itself as therapeutic by making it possible for me to bring the overwhelming emotions in navigating the liminal spaces in the trajectory of illness to my supervisor. He bears witness to this creative-relational relationship which evolved over time between me, Frank, and others in both imaginal and real encounters in my trajectory of illness. The contribution of this study is that it offers an alternative to an autoethnographic approach in researching the deep, personal experience of health conditions that are biographically disruptive. It also opens an invitation to others who are interested in expanding the boundary of working collaboratively through imaginal dialogue with me and others. This can contribute to the knowledge creation of how human beings with medical conditions can develop a renewed sense of self in the process of navigating the liminal spaces in the trajectory of illness.