Listen up: Dublin nurses start podcast for cancer patients

The podcast is not affiliated with any hospital and is created by the two nurses in their spare time
Listen up: Dublin nurses start podcast for cancer patients

Answers for Cancers podcast hosts Michelle Matthews and Anne-Maire Fay in a picture taken before the pandemic.

Two oncology nurses have started a new podcast to help answer questions cancer patients might have about their diagnosis and treatment. 

The Answers for Cancers podcast was started in January by Anne-Marie Fay and Michelle Matthews, who work in the Mater Private hospital in Dublin.

The podcast is not affiliated with any hospital and is created by the two nurses in their spare time. They are hoping it will help both cancer patients and their families. 

Each week, they interview different medical practitioners who work with cancer patients, to discuss different topics such as fertility, new treatments, fatigue, and mental health. 

One of the contributors to the podcast this month is Prof Austin Duffy, medical oncologist and author. Picture: Nick Bradshaw

One of the contributors to the podcast this month is Prof Austin Duffy, medical oncologist and author. Picture: Nick Bradshaw

Ms Matthews says getting a cancer diagnosis is difficult in normal times, but there is added stress because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"I think a lot of people held off going to the GP, and people pushed out getting checked," she says. 

Ms Fay adds that they started the podcast because a lot of patients are receiving diagnosis on their own at the moment, due to public health measures. 

It is quite a traumatic moment. They can freeze. We found that patients were coming to their first treatment, but they didn't know what was going on, it was hard for them to take in the information on their own.

Family members also cannot accompany patients on day wards or to appointments and, usually, they might be the ones to ask questions or take down information. With the podcast, patients can listen to the information in their own time, as well as listen with their families. 

"This can empower them to come back into us and face what they have to face," says Ms Fay.

Avoiding 'Dr Google'

She says it can also prevent people from searching for information about the illness online and fearing the worst about their diagnosis. 

At least with the podcast it is registered medical professionals and the information is quite clear, we don't want to scare people.

Ms Fay says oncology nurses are the first port of call for a lot of patients as they are with them during treatment. 

We wanted to educate ourselves too so we can answer questions they may have and give them emotional support.

She says the positive response to the podcast has been overwhelming. 

Positive response

"Oftentimes a day ward setting can be chaotic and people might find it hard to ask questions, or feel uncomfortable bringing up the topic in a hospital setting because there are people around. We have had people contacting us saying they were glad we discussed a certain topic as they didn't know how to bring it up."

You can subscribe to the Answers for Cancers podcast here, or on the Apple Podcasts app. 

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