'We've fallen into the cracks': Aboriginal women's experiences with breast cancer through photovoice

Jennifer Poudrier, Roanne Thomas Mac-Lean
Nursing Inquiry 2009, 16 (4): 306-17
Despite some recognition that Aboriginal women who have experienced breast cancer may have unique health needs, little research has documented the experiences of Aboriginal women from their perspective. Our main objective was to explore and to begin to make visible Aboriginal women's experiences with breast cancer using the qualitative research technique, photovoice. The research was based in Saskatchewan, Canada and participants were Aboriginal women who had completed breast cancer treatment. Although Aboriginal women cannot be viewed as a homogeneous group, participants indicated two areas of priority for health-care: (i) Aboriginal identity and traditional beliefs, although expressed in diverse ways, are an important dimension of breast cancer experiences and have relevance for health-care; and (ii) there is a need for multidimensional support which addresses larger issues of racism, power and socioeconomic inequality. We draw upon a critical and feminist conception of visuality to interrogate and disrupt the dominant visual terrain (both real and metaphorical) where Aboriginal women are either invisible or visible in disempowering ways. Aboriginal women who have experienced breast cancer must be made visible within health-care in a way that recognizes their experiences situated within the structural context of marginalization through colonial oppression.

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