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Accepted Paper:

(In)visibility of later life cancer. Support groups as a way out of unrecognition.  
Katarzyna Slaby (Jagiellonian University)

Paper short abstract:

In the presentation, I am portraying two late-life self-help groups - breast cancer support group and prostate cancer support group as forms of challenging social marginalization. In the analysis, I will use the intersectional perspective, through its inter- and intra-categorical complexity.

Paper long abstract:

It is crucial to look into embodied tactics for managing particular health issues in later life, especially when we realize that both older men and women have been categorized as “genderless” or “invisible” in contemporary society, becoming even more important in the context of illnesses affecting such specific and “gendered” areas.

This presentation is a comparative analysis of two self-help groups for women with experience of breast cancer and men after prostate cancer, resulting from the fieldwork carried out in 2019-2022 in a mid-sized city in Poland. The associations differ in gender, but what they have in common is the illness's specific natures and the members' age, as both groups consist of seniors. Age appears to be the factor that particularly influences the peculiar invisibility which manifests differently for each group, thereby enacting dissimilar tactics to overcoming or at least, negotiating it. Both women and men face stereotypes about age femininity and masculinity, and support groups appear to be an important resource for negotiating socially empowered norms, even if both groups understand it differently.

Thus, I am looking at this case from an intersectional perspective, through its inter- and intra-categorical complexity (McCall 2005) that take into account the differences between those groups as well as the multifaceted situation of older men and women after cancer in their ambivalent structural position.

Therefore, the context of my research is three-fold and includes gender, illness, and age, giving insight into narrated personal cancer experiences and performances of how the associations operate in public.

Panel OP087
The intersectionality of anthropology, ageing, and disability studies [Medical Anthropology Europe (MAE)]
  Session 2