From Beaune to Breaking Bad: Rethinking the spiritual care of cancer patients

From Beaune to Breaking Bad: Rethinking the spiritual care of cancer patients

Mr Ewan BowlbyZoom

This paper describes how an arts-based, thematic approach to spiritual care can be used to engage with aspects of cancer patients’ experiences that remain largely “invisible” in contemporary healthcare practices. Whilst modern medicine has been dominated by the restitution narrative privileging the treatment of physical symptoms and curing of disease (Frank, 2013), there is a growing awareness that spiritual care engaging with the lasting emotional, existential impact of serious illness is required. Yet despite cancer patients’ recognised need for spiritual care, conceptual and methodological problems mean that spiritual care is frequently overlooked in care provision. I outline how arts-based interventions using popular media can be used to implement a pragmatic, inclusive approach to spiritual care, addressing areas of experience that are “perceptually absent” from healthcare practices (Swinton, 2020). Drawing on my work with cancer patients and personal experience of cancer, and my research collaboration with the Maggie’s Cancer Care Trust and Northumberland Cancer Support Group (NCSG), the paper provides examples of this approach in practice. I outline how fictional narratives can open up specific themes for exploration, inviting conversation and reflection on the emotional and existential impact of cancer, in a manner that accommodates each patient’s subjective spiritual perspective.

University of St Andrews, UK
Thu 14:30 - 16:00
Creative Methodologies, Education, Gender and Sexuality
Standard paper