'Everyone avoids the subject. You think they are better off not talking about cancer but we should be talking about it.'
Two Exeter medical students are reaching out to fellow health professionals to encourage better empathy and understanding for patients who are living with cancer.
Bogdan Chiva Giurca, 23, was 13 when his mother was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, a type of skin cancer.
‘I still remember how scared my family and I were. She became estranged from us and as much as we tried we still couldn’t understand what she was going through,’ explained Bogdan.
Their story will be broadcast on ITV West Country on Thursday, August 9, between 6pm and 6:30pm.
As time passed, Bogdan realized that even with all their training, most clinicians would find it hard to completely understand a patients situation if they had no personal experience of the disease.
Bogdan met Navin Nagesh in his first year of medical school and they set about making a book collating cancer patients’ creative work, including poems and drawings.
The book has been therapeutic for the patients, but also ‘eye-opening’ for other medical students who have contributed to the project.
One reader gave their feedback: ‘I think the work that Bogdan and Navin have done has been amazing. This is the first time I’ve heard of medical students really listening to their patients. Already it's helping their colleagues and their peers. I think it will help future doctors if they get access to the booklet and understand the story behind it.’
Bogdan and Navin hope to share the booklet in GP waiting rooms, oncology clinical waiting rooms and other places where people can start conversations about cancer.
The duo realise that it is difficult to understand the emotional challenges which accompany a cancer diagnosis but they want to better prepare medical students, the future of the profession, to treat patients as people and not just test results.
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.