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Andrew Casillas
The University of Texas El Paso
RWS 1301
James M. Nielsen


John Swales (1990) defines a discourse community into six characteristics and to belong
to a discourse community one must exhibit all the characteristics that he portrays. Including the
fact that an individual can belong to multiple discourse communities that have varying forms of
communication. Discourse meaning written or spoken communication, is a way that individuals
can work together with a shared goal or understanding in the case of finding a cure to Breast
Cancer and end the long afflicting illness. How these individuals going through the fight against
cancer is what makes them a discourse community. Although it is a strict classification that
Swales gives to be even considered a discourse community, the Susan G. Komen Cancer support
community, is one community that deserves to fit his six characteristics.

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer support community is where women and men who
have been afflicted with Breast Cancer and are still afflicted can communicate with other people
and other patients. The purpose of the foundation is to raise funds to treat the afflicted people and
help them survive their cancer and get well again and live long lives. Not only people from the
foundation but individuals who have lost family members or loved ones to Breast cancer to share
their experiences and stories. It takes several groups of people from afflicted to survivors and the
foundation to help the patients get well and overcome this disease. Forming this complex
discourse community in the battle of Breast Cancer with the ultimate goal to find a cure and save

Literature Review
A discourse community is a group of people who share a set of discourses, understood as
basic values and assumptions, and ways of communicating about those goals (Swales, 1990).
The way that the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer association interacts with its patients and their
families are through their official website that is non-profit so that the individuals who have been
affected by breast cancer can share their stories of how they lost a loved one, to survivor stories
to inspire fellow patients to overcome this disease.
Swales, (1990) defines his six characteristics of a discourse community, you should try to
imagine groups you belong to that exhibit all six of these characteristics to even be considered a
discourse community. One of the points says, that groups that use Specialized linguistic terms
that you don't understand (Swales,1990) can be considered a discourse community. Patients that
are afflicted with Breast Cancer and other kinds of cancer know several medical terms such as
CT scans, MRI, CML, etc., that arent formally used in the public world. Their worlds mainly
consist of medical facts that most people arent informed about.
The patients talk to each other online so that they can comfort each other and give
inspiration to keep fighting the disease. Not only online but they have groups of patients that
interact physically with each other as well as receive multiple visits form loved ones. They
normally talk about their pink time which is the time where they were first exposed to breast
cancer and how it affected their lives. Yet people try to relate and understand how others feel
(The text is not an autonomous or unified object, but a set of relations with other texts) (Porter,
1986). Yet they all still encourage each other to overcome the disease and never give up. So that
they all can get better and find the cure.

Although the stories and online postings of the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer, patients
dont always include the specific things talked about and what they are going through
emotionally, psychologically, and physically There is no concrete way that someone going
through this truly feels deep inside as well as the pain that they have to endure when going
through treatments. There is no machine that lets another experience what they feel, the fact that
they know that their time is limited and that there is no real cure. The fact that they are strong
enough to overcome that and continue living, is nothing short of awe inspiring and exhilarating
that these individuals are so strong. To overcome this sense of dread and pain is uncomprehend
able to chart down unless someone goes through it
To understand how Breast Cancer Patients, experience their aliment and what they go
through on a daily basis requires a more analyzation and research to fully comprehend their lives.
The effects of how they talk to each other and post blogs of their lives and their hopes is
definitely a discourse community deserving of recognition. As technology improves, hopefully
there will be a cure for the disease, yet there will be better understanding of what these
individuals go through.


Porter, J. E. (1986). Intertextuality and the discourse community. Rhetoric Review, 5(1),
Swales, J. (2011). The concept of discourse community. In Downs & Wardle (Eds.),
Writing about writing (pp. 466-473). Boston: Bedford St. Martins.