"SOME WOMEN ARE JUST SO MUCH BETTER THAN ME:" GOVERNMENTALITY ENACTED THROUGH THE BREAST CANCER SOCIAL MOVEMENT
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Breast cancer social movements have, in many ways, succeeded in increasing the visibility of the disease in North America, yet researchers understand little about the effects of this visibility; there is little information about how women with breast cancer navigate breast cancer discourse. Feminist relational autonomy helps us to understand that women's degree of autonomy in making treatment decisions regarding their breast cancer is affected by their understanding of the disease and available options. I draw on the results of multiple qualitative interviews and online discussion group posts from 12 women with breast cancer in Nova Scotia, Canada, to examine the interconnections between breast cancer discourse and approaches to decision-making. Many representations of the best ways to “do” breast cancer cross the boundaries of allopathic and homeopathic medicine, popular self-help literature, and support services approaches to care, making them extremely pervasive in women’s lives. An idealised subject position that portrays women with breast cancer as strong, positive survivors/thrivers connects to a context in which certain identities are more likely to be accepted than others. Constraining the identities worthy of social recognition, breast cancer discourse is taken up in ways that limit the actions participants could imagine and justify, and encourage self-governance and discipline of others.