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Publication details

Zammit, C 2008, 'The experience of dying : a reflective topical autobiography', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright C Zammit 2008


This thesis aimed primarily to describe my experience of dying. A second consideration was to describe the impact on family, friends and others. My initial objective was to write down my experiences in response to the many questions and concerns raised by family members and friends. I believed they were interested in making more informed decisions about their lives and treatments should they themselves be diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. I wanted to give a true account and accurate information, which in the first instance might help my own genetic family. Beyond this, I hoped to reach those interested parties, who would benefit from this information and knowledge, particularly those who themselves were diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, and those at risk of doing so. My hope was that it would also help their partners and carers, both personal and professional, to also know and understand the experience, so that they could give the support that comes from knowledge and empathy.

This Reflective Topical Autobiography (RTA) comprises a trajectory of events and reflections, documented chronologically, to capture the detail of my life journey, in relation to my cancer diagnosis. The images and stories portraying my life journey with cancer include works entitled: Origins, My Family, My Culture, Rag Doll, The Demon Within, The Silent Scream, The Fighter, Feather Inscape, Slipping Away, Living Horror, Mother, Morphine, Heart of Peace, Living in the Shadows, Cancer (Mis)information, and Withdrawing/Emerging. Accompanying reflections provide insights into the creation of the images and how I have come to interpret them and make sense of my experience of dying.

This RTA fulfils most or all of these aims and objectives, some of which can only be realised over time, as people resonate with my work and personal insights into what it is to experience dying, as an immediate and ever present reality.