Faculty Publications

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Family Process



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Illness, Breast cancer, Life-stage Identity, Mother–daughter relationship


Family Medicine


We are a mother and daughter, both health care professionals, who offer a follow-up to an article we published twenty years ago about the impact of each other’s ongoing, serious medical problems on our relationship. In this article, we contribute a long-term perspective on the differences between having an illness that is well or poorly understood by medical professionals and the lay community. We also discuss health in the cont ext of identity formation and life stage, as during this interval the daughter left home, graduated college, married, and had two children. Also in this period, the mother survived a third breast cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. We discuss the impact of these experiences on each other and in other important relationships in our lives. Current discourses on daughters of breast cancer survivors do not fit our experience and we speculate about why our story differs. We find that although we continue to contend with serious medical issues that impact our own, each other’s, an d our families’ lives, nonetheless, our lives are rich, rewarding, and “appropriate” for our life stage. That is the news.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Weingarten, K. and Worthen, M. (2015) "Unreliable Bodies: A Follow-up Twenty Years Later by a Mother and Daughter about the Impact of Illness and Disability on their Lives." Family Process, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/famp.12197. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.