"Talk Cancer" is being launched 24th May

Medical students launch cancer support book alongside charity

A local cancer support charity project, founded by University of Exeter Medical School students, is launching a book to promote open conversation about cancer.

For the last three years, a group of students including Bogdan Chiva Giurca, Navin Mukundu Nagesh, Hamish Patel, Isabella Hibell, and Miriam Beattie have worked alongside FORCE, a cancer charity based in the South West. “Talk Cancer” is the outcome of this project, co-founded by the students.

The book, written by local cancer patients with narratives, monologues, poems and illustrations highlighting their individual stories is being launched this Friday, 24th May. Following the launch, it will be published in June available in book stores around the country, including Waterstones.

Final Year BMBS Medical Student Navin, 27, said: “This book hopes to promote honest conversations about cancer amongst loved ones, friends and to normalise the ‘C’ word. The outcome of this work alongside FORCE has really helped us to develop something which can be a supportive resource to people who are newly diagnosed. This book wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing work of everyone involved, especially the patients.”

Final Year BMBS Medical Student Bogdan, 25, said: “We’re all incredibly proud of the outcome of this book. The students involved would like to wholeheartedly thank the University of Exeter Medical School academic faculty for providing the support and inspiration that provided the platform for this project. Thank you also to the University of Exeter Annual Alumni Fund who supported our project. We’re really looking forward to the launch of this book and invite you all to join us to celebrate and strengthen the connection between the Medical School and FORCE.”

The project also had a personal motivation for Bogdan. At the age of 13, his mother was diagnosed with skin cancer.

He said: “It was a tough time as I wanted to help, but didn’t know how. If something like this book had existed when that had happened, it would have made conversation with my mother and people around me easier. Cancer is never easy to go through, but this book aims to make it normal to talk about and reduce the stigma attached to it.”

The Medical Student volunteers, Bogdan, Navin, Isabella, Miriam and Hamish, interviewed more than 50 cancer patients at FORCE across a three year period to collate the incredible range of perspectives and reflections in the upcoming book.

Bogdan and Navin, were recently awarded the Furness Prize for Science Communication by the Royal College of Pathologists for their book on the experiences of cancer. The award for this project that bridges the gap between students and the local community.

Chief Executive of FORCE Cancer Charity Meriel Fishwick, said: "I first met Bogdan and Navin at the end of February 2016 when they came to FORCE to discuss a project which involved collecting and sharing cancer patient’s stories. They were clearly passionate about their plans and on my part it was impossible not to be infected by their enthusiasm.

“Bogdan and Navin were invited to our Support Services meeting to present their proposal to the Team at FORCE and gather some feedback. They have chosen to combine their academic work with patient engagement and the result is this inspiring, moving and remarkable compilation. As an organisation focused on the holistic needs of cancer patients, it’s especially encouraging to see the next generation of medics really wanting to understand the psycho-social impact of cancer."

One patient participant, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "Spending time with the young medical students who lovingly gave their time and attention was actually a very therapeutic experience for me. They were sensitive, respectful and asked me the right questions to allow my voice and story to be heard in the best light. I felt a sense of happiness knowing that the future generation of doctors will be kind and considerate."

 

FORCE welcome everyone to the launch of the upcoming book "Talk Cancer" on Friday 24th of May from 5pm onwards. Stories, including some of those from the book, will be shared along with some light refreshments. Patients who have contributed to the book will also be in attendance. The event takes place at the FORCE cancer charity centre at Corner House, Barrack Road, Exeter EX2 5DW. Anyone who wishes to attend, please RSVP to Trina Lake via email or call 01392 406151.

Date: 23 May 2019

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