Black Women and Breast Cancer

Black Women and Breast Cancer : A Cultural Theology

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Christian theology at its core is a story about someone being in trouble. In response to this trouble, the triune God intervenes. God identifies with those in trouble, walking with them through the experience. Yet, the God of Christian theology goes a step further. God prevails over trouble. God is an overcomer. Black women with breast cancer identify with this God. They also see themselves in this theological narrative. They see themselves in the midst of troubles, troubles like racism, poverty and environmental exposures that create the disease affecting their bodies. They see the troubles of breast cancer, their biological disposition towards more aggressive cancers, later stage diagnoses, poorer prognoses, diminished quality of care and worse outcomes.

Black women also palpably feel the troubles breast cancer brings like fear, physical disfigurement, social isolation, being stereotyped for treatment decisions, abandonment and even death. Black women feel the myriad troubles breast cancer brings. But, Black women also know God in their troubles. They know an active God who identifies with and prioritizes their needs. They know this God, through scripture and experience, as God who puts them front and center. And because they know God as an overcomer and creative force, they know themselves as overcomers. For with God, their troubles do not last always.

Black women with breast cancer construct a cultural theology of breast cancer out of knowing God. Borne out of experiences of the Black Church, womanist theology and their intersectional identities of race, class and gender, this theological investigation, informed by anthropology, examines how Black women construct an ontology of who God is and how God operates and gain a God consciousness that shapes their response to the disease. Using pain, faith and testimony as tools to struggle against breast cancer Black survivors' theology transforms them from victims of breast cancer to change agents. Out of their lives as survivors comes a theology of complex hope- one cognizant of Black women's breast cancer disparities, yet oriented towards Black women's achievement of health in the present and the future- a sufficient hope to sustain Black women through it all.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 182 pages
  • 161 x 230 x 20mm | 440g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 1498561063
  • 9781498561068

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Talking God and Talking Cancer

Chapter 2: The Power of Black Women's Cancer Testimonies

Chapter 3: Black Women's Cancer Support Seeking

Chapter 4: Healing Claims as Acts of Faith and Resistance

Chapter 5: Black Women Transformed into Cancer Survivors

Chapter 6: Black Cancer Survivors' Transformative Theology of Hope
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Review quote

Elizabeth Williams effectively joins the ideas and practices of cultural anthropology and theology to help the reader comprehend the understandings of a group of African American, cancer-surviving women. The foundation of William's account are the voices of these women extended through her thoughtful reading and theoretically informed analysis. Her account is both intellectually elegant and of great utility for those providing medical care to African American women. -- John van Willigen, University of Kentucky Through interdisciplinary analysis and intersectional advocacy, Williams examines the theological anthropology of breast cancer's impact not only on Black women's bodies, but also the moral and spiritual implications it has for human flourishing amidst the ravages of disease. Through her ties to medical research and underserved communities, she deftly identifies and explores the ideological and intimate underpinnings that womanist thought and praxis has for offering moral visions of hope and holistic approaches to a more thoroughgoing anthropological understanding of what it means to survive and thrive amidst death-dealing circumstances. -- Stacey Floyd-Thomas, Vanderbilt University
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About Elizabeth A. Williams

Elizabeth A. Williams is associate professor in the Department of Public Health, Health Administration and Health Sciences at Tennessee State University.
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