Student research: Zoe Rhoades

Living with Multiple Myeloma: The Cultural and Genetic ‘Self’

For her undergraduate dissertation, Zoe Rhoades (St John's College) is researching the diagnosis, treatment and the social and physical impacts on individuals living with multiple myeloma, a rare bone marrow cancer that often affects multiple areas of the body through movement of blood cells around the body.

If you are interested in taking part in this study please email Zoe at

Alongside her primary data from interviews, Zoe will be researching the biological and genetic characteristics of multiple myeloma. Zoe will also speak to doctors and nurses who treat multiple myeloma patients to learn more about the biological aspects as well as the social and cultural struggles and achievements experienced by individuals living with it. 

Her dissertation sits within the sub-field of medical anthropology, a particularly interesting field of research in modern society as it moves away from looking only at the physiological health of individuals with medical difficulties, but also explores their health within social and cultural contexts. An anthropological perspective in medical research provides a more holistic view of medical concerns, enabling scientists and doctors and individuals to take a holistic approach to treatment and recovery, and in extreme cases, integration back into society.

The research will be carried out through online semi-structured interviews using Microsoft teams, or the medium most convenient for the participants. Paricipants will be prompted to talk about the background of their diagnosis and living with multiple myeloma, treatments, personal impacts, and maintaining a positive mindset.

Zoe is looking for adult volunteers (18+ years) who have been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Volunteers would be invited to take part in a semi-structured online interview lasting about 1 hour which will be directed by themes that the interviewee is comfortable talking about, and it can be stopped at any time. This research will go towards her undergraduate dissertation and all data will be anonymised.

Zoe has prepared the following documents for participants: