Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 297–314 | Cite as

On the Receiving End: Women, Caring, and Breast Cancer

Original Paper


Gendered definitions of care influence breast cancer survivors’ coping strategies, sense of entitlement to care, and ultimately their capacity to receive care. Using qualitative data from 60 intensive interviews, this study examines how gendered definitions of care influence women’s experiences as care-receivers. Findings indicate that negotiating gender boundaries to care for the self is both empowering and stigmatizing. Women with breast cancer are required to break gender norms that stress compliance, nurturing, and putting the needs of others first to prioritize their own needs for care. Concurrently, they take on additional nurturing roles to provide support to other women with breast cancer, relinquishing to some degree the individualistic approach to life they found necessary to cope with their illness in the first place.


Breast cancer Chronic illness Care work Gender identity Gender norms 



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyVassar CollegePoughkeepsieUSA

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