Re-designing the everyday; The use and perception of time among cancer patients combining work and treatment

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    This article describes how time was used dynamically by a group of people at risk of losing their lives. It is shown how these people appeared to experience a change in the relationship between inner and outer time and that time literally was felt in this situation. An empirical investigation of 16 cancer patients performing their jobs while going through demanding treatment programs found time as their main motive for working while being seriously ill. Actions at work point to a time ahead, so by taking part in the time at the workplace they were inscribed in a future presently under pressure by their cancer diagnosis. The article describes how cancer struck women and men perceived time in their different life-worlds, at work, at home on temporary sick leave, and at the hospital, and it shows how these perceptions changed during the process of recovery.To these people time appeared in three forms: A time beyond control, realizing that they had cancer; taking control of time, discovering that they could go to work; the time of the future, which was their new perception of time as cured. This new perception of time reflected the incidental discovery of the cancer, realizing life as coincidental. Having their life time threatened made them feel vulnerable and liminal (neither sick nor well, but on the way to recovery). This vulnerability can be seen as the result of a breakdown of our taken-for-granted space-time world. For these people, going to work seemed to reduce the unbearable waiting time towards recovery by re-establishing links to a well-known life-world, the workplace.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalTime & Society
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)193-212
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Presenteeism
    • Cancer patients
    • Motives for working
    • Lifeworlds
    • Time
    • Phenomenology
    • Everyday life


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