Outside the box: Surviving survival

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7 Scopus citations


The full experience of cancer, from diagnosis onward, was first codified as "survival" in 1985. While this terminology has prompted an important attention to the long term care and quality of life of those of us who have been diagnosed with some form of cancer, it has also linked us indelibly to disease and eclipsed the possibility that we might, in fact, be cancer free. Within cancer stories (such as Jerri Nielsen's Icebound: A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole), surviving heroes have replaced cancer victims. But connection to disease shadows articulations of hope, and emphasis on the extraordinary nature of surviving threatens to underplay the value of ordinary living. This essay argues that we need, then, to open space within the discourse of survival for the assumption of health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-252
Number of pages16
JournalLiterature and medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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