Burning Questions is a podcast that features fearless conversations about cancer. Host Bhairavi Madhusudhan Shibulal - Founder & Director of Solis Health and a former caregiver herself - shares personal reflections and takes a candid look at the realities of life with cancer through in-depth conversations with patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, academics and other guests from around the world.

17 January 2023

From fundamental doubts to practical questions on cancer.

The show is a platform for frank and meaningful dialogue on all aspects of the cancer care journey. From fundamental doubts (“How do I cope with my diagnosis?” “How will my cancer affect my body, lifestyle and relationships?”), to practical questions (“Is a second opinion right for me?” “How do I effectively care for my loved one?”) and more, the conversations tackle all the burning questions that cancer inevitably brings with it.

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EPISODE 6 - Healing Spaces

Cancer treatment takes time. It involves seemingly endless time spent in waiting rooms, hours and hours spent in treatment and then hours of recovery.

One’s treatment may take them to a hospital, which is a clinical space. “Grey, windowless spaces,” as Bhairavi’s mother used to call them. Harshly-lit hospital rooms, cramped, crowded and noisy waiting rooms are spaces that leave often leave patients and their family’s feeling overwhelmed, fearful, anxious. Bhairavi believes it doesn’t have to be that way.

In this episode of Burning Questions she talks about healing spaces, both physical and virtual through conversations with Dame Laura Lee, the Chief Executive of Maggie’s, Dr Carmen Loiselle, a researcher of psychosocial oncology and nursing and Sujayanti Dasgupta, an healthcare architect she worked with on the Solis Health Cancer Support Centre. And finally, Bhairavi and her father look back at how her mum’s cancer journey and how it changed them both forever.

EPISODE 5 - Life, Affirmed

A cancer diagnosis can feel life shattering as things spin out of control. But it is possible to slowly take back control and recreate and reshape one’s life, piece by piece. When you don’t let cancer control your life, you gain a sense of agency and ultimately, there is something liberating about this.

In this episode, Bhairavi Madhusudhan Shibulal examines the realities of survivorship and what life - and sometimes loss- after cancer means to patients and caregivers.

It’s important to humanize cancer, the people coping with the disease, as well as those treating the disease.

Listen in as an oncologist shares his own experience of how healthcare professionals balance the incredible demands of their profession - the highs, lows and everything in between - with their own emotions, indeed their own humanity, so that they are able to deliver the best possible care. Thanks to Aashna Suvarna, Chinmayi Arakali, Bennita Ganesh, Kaveri Ganapathy Ahuja, Amrita Rao and Oona Yadav for sharing their stories. Thanks to Dr Vijay Agarwal for sharing his perspectives with us.

EPISODE 4 - Living With Loss After Cancer

Content Warning: This episode contains conversations centred around death, loss and grieving. We advise listener discretion.

Hope is often what keeps cancer patients and their family’s going. But it can be hard to process the grief, hurt, anger, pain, and despair that comes with a cancer diagnosis and treatment journey. And when the worst happens - how do you live with the loss?

In this episode of Burning Questions, Bhairavi takes an in-depth look at grief, coping with loss and afterwards. How can one come to terms with the idea that life is still worth living after losing a loved one to cancer?

Bhairavi listens to former caregivers Amrita Rao and Oona Yadav as they reflect on their respective cancer journeys. She also continues her conversations with Andrew Anderson, a former oncology nurse and Centre Head of Maggie’s in Edinburgh and Dr. Paul Salins, the Medical Director of the Mazumdar Shaw Medical Centre at Narayana Health in Bangalore.

EPISODE 3 - Mind, Body and The Big C

In the first two episodes of Burning Question, Bhairavi examined the many complex emotions a cancer diagnosis inevitably brings. Alongside these emotions, physical changes during the cancer journey often impacts how patients look or how they live their lives, and this in turn can cause severe emotional distress.

Some of these changes are visible - hair loss from chemotherapy, fluctuations in body weight, scarring or losing a part of the body from surgery. Other changes like extreme fatigue and infertility may not be visible, but impacts patients and families just as deeply.

So how can one adequately prepare themselves and their family for these changes? How can one live life as fully as possible, before, during or after treatment? In this episode, we hear from survivors Kaveri Ganapathy Ahuja and Aashna Suvarna about their respective cancer journeys and how they have learnt to cope with the long-term impacts cancer treatment has had on their bodies, lifestyle and relationships.

EPISODE 2 - Is a Second Opinion Right for Me?

In episode two of Burning Questions, host Bhairavi Madhusudhan Shibulal looks at the aftermath of the cancer diagnosis, when decisions need to be made about the way forward. Patients and their families often need time to process the diagnosis before understanding and weighing their options, and deciding on the best course of treatment. However, with doctors and healthcare professionals under tremendous pressure, struggling to keep up with staggering caseloads, and optimizing resources, time is often presented as something one doesn’t have the luxury of. So where does that leave the patient and the family?

Bhairavi speaks to Chinmayi and Bennita about their respective cancer journeys: what helped and what didn’t. Then, Dr. Paul Salins and Dr. Vijay Agarwal, both highly regarded clinicians, share their perspectives on why multidisciplinary care is vital in treating chronic diseases like cancer. Finally, Bhairavi continues her conversation with Dr. Shobana Ramasamy about the importance of building openness, honesty, and trust with your care team.

EPISODE 1 - Cancer and The Things People Say

One of the most difficult parts of the cancer journey is perhaps at the very beginning: the diagnosis. It leaves patients and their families facing choices, decisions and feeling overwhelmed. They want answers, reassurance, empathy, and compassion. But are these things all healthcare professionals are able to provide? And what happens when even friends and family withdraw from them, unsure of what to say or how to help?

In this first episode of Burning Questions, host Bhairavi Madhusudhan Shibulal speaks to cancer survivors and caregivers about what went through their minds when they were told they had cancer, how they felt, what they asked, and what they didn’t.

She also has a candid conversation with Dr. Shobana Ramasamy about the role clinicians can play to empower their patients with the right information and make the cancer journey a little more bearable. Finally, Bhairavi sits down to talk to her father Madhu, and they look back at how they got the news of her own mother’s cancer diagnosis and what they decided together as a family in the days that followed.

Season 1 - Trailer

Through a new podcast series, Burning Questions: Fearless Conversations About Cancer, host Bhairavi Madhusudhan Shibulal takes a candid look at the realities of life with cancer and addresses everything we, as a society, usually don't talk about when it comes to this dreaded disease.

The show is a platform for frank and meaningful dialogue on all aspects of care, from fundamental doubts ("How do I cope with my diagnosis?" "How do I effectively care for my loved one?" "How will cancer affect my relationships?"), to practical questions ("Is a second opinion right for me?" "How do I manage the financial aspects of care?") and other important issues.

We hope that listeners will find solace in these conversations and feel empowered with the right tools and information as they navigate the difficult world of care.

17 January 2023

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