Between Two Worlds: Liminality and Late-Stage Cancer-Directed Therapy.

Omega

PubMedID: 26625508

Adorno G. Between Two Worlds: Liminality and Late-Stage Cancer-Directed Therapy. Omega (Westport). 2015;71(2):99-125.
Disease-directed therapy near death is a growing trend among persons living with late-stage cancer. As a sociocultural phenomenon, cancer-directed therapy (e. g. , chemotherapy) when given for very advanced disease is a process that offers questionable benefits and portends further suffering, but also suggests potential for growth and transcendence. Theories and concepts drawn from cultural anthropology, sociology, and existentialism illustrate how contextual factors contribute to the creation of a "liminal space"; the latter part of the cancer trajectory where living and dying can overlap. When applied to clinical practice, this theoretical framework gives the patient, family, and health care provider a way of "unmasking" a period of transition during terminal illness when aggressive disease-directed care continues to be provided. The liminal space may function as an existential plane; a gateway or threshold with inherent potential for psychospiritual development during the final stage of life.