The Transition of Cancer Tobyoki (illness narrative) in Japan

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Michiko KADOBAYASHI, Japan Women's University, Japan
In Japan illness narratives called “tobyoki” have been published actively, and among them cancer tobyoki account for half of them in number. Cancer tobyoki has remarkably increased since 1980’s with the rising incidence of cancer. In my study about 600 volumes of cancer tobyoki from 1960’s to the present, I examined the authors’ consciousness, the relation to the “truth-telling”, and the chronological change of the views of cancer in those memoirs. And I found the existence of the master narrative which symbolizes the era. Cancer tobyoki has been changing. That was caused by the change of the medical policy toward “truth-telling”, which was influenced by the flow of cancer treatment. This transition of the policy affected the view of cancer in society and patients’ consciousness, and changed the content of tobyoki. I classified cancer tobyoki published until around 2000 into four categories according to the period as follows; 1. until 1980, it is common that the patient was not informed the truth. 2. the latter half of 1980’s, “truth-telling” began. 3. the latter half of 1990’s, the rate of truth-telling rose. 4. around 2000, the “truth-telling” was generalized as a necessary information for patients and a lot of authors declared “symbiosis and coexistence” with cancer. After that the diversification of cancer tobyoki was seen for a while. And now one out of two people get cancer, and tobyo-ki has changed greatly. The authors try to grasp their situations as it is and face cancer. Most of writers are considering how to finish their lives even in the last stage of life. Tobyoki is the story of diseases, and the story composed of the personal experience and social or cultural factors. I’m going to indicate the master narrative and mention about some factors of the transition.