The newly diagnosed cancer patient faces an overwhelming and complex set of challenges as they navigate and negotiate the multiplex of caregiving processes. Upon receiving the news about their diagnosis, cancer patients often are devastated. The fear, dread, and terror that accompany the diagnostic message stem from multiple factors, especially those issues (a) situated in conceptions of self and (b) those perceived through social construction of reality. Traversing through multiple communication contexts involving self-identity, family members, providers, health care organizations, and environmental contingencies creates an overwhelming set of challenges for the cancer patient. The starts and stops along this journey may well determine the outcome of their cancer experience. This is not to say that this process determines the outcome of the chemotherapy treatment on the diseased cells, but rather it is to emphasize that it will determine how the cancer survivor fares after cancer. Some patients come through their cancer experience feeling empowered, strong and happy, whereas oth-
ers feel disempowered, weak, and unhappy. Some cancer patients believe that cancer constitutes, in some way, a blessing, as they now truly appreciate life. What accounts for such discrepancies in the experience and outcomes of cancer? As contributions to this volume illustrate, a narrative perspective to understanding health care issues offers a powerful tool for both scholars and practitioners. This chapter emphasizes the need for patients to exercise agency through narrative in order to achieve a more successfully managed cancer care environment. Although narrative analysis in cancer-care is not a new phenomenon, neither is it a universal form of inquiry when investigating patient-care issues.