City Research Online

Dying from cancer in the 21st century

Giannikaki, E. (2019). Dying from cancer in the 21st century. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Purpose: The purpose of this research is the study of the subjective experiences of individuals who enter palliative care knowing that they are approaching the end of their lives. Posing a research question on death and dying in 2018 is not an easy task. The researcher has to open up a space for her/his question through literature that extends in history and moves through interdisciplinary fields. I found that the idea of the fear of death is a formative central concept for the topic of death and dying that, if followed along the lines of its development, again historically and through conceptualizations from various fields, can provide a coherent and solid review of the topic. Placing the concept of the fear of death under examination enabled me to think about the subjective experiences of people who are facing the imminent end of their lives, in different ways than those suggested by ‘the fear of death’ hypothesis. I ‘bracketed off’ this hypothesis and I was freed to follow the much richer accounts of the present research’s participants in terms of distinct constellations of thoughts, feelings, and emotions that are experienced when leading a life knowing that you are dying, but also of expectations and requirements to be in a certain way, to think in a certain way, and to act in a certain way as dictated by dominant discourses.

Methods: Four participants were interviewed and two methods of analyses were imposed on the participants’ accounts, namely Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and Foucauldian Discourse Analysis (FDA). Special care for their epistemological complementarity was given.

Results: IPA revealed 4 superordinate themes with 3 subthemes each. The superordinate themes are self presentation, suffering, relatedness and confrontation with death, which, as suggested in the conclusion, can be read as the special psychological needs of individuals who live-with dying. The FDA findings, on the other hand, added significant implications on individuals’ experience by revealing the hidden powers of dominant discourses on cancer, death, and dying.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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