Cancer causes 1.3 million deaths annually in Europe. Six thousand are children. 2.7 million lives are turned upside down every year after a diagnosis. Thirty-five thousand of these are children and adolescents. (Franssen & Casa, Times of Malta 8 December 2021). The aim of this programme is to build awareness on such a widespread human experience, particularly the existential issues that arise as a consequence of a cancer diagnosis and its reverberations on human lives. These existential issues manifest themselves as foundational questions such as: what is the purpose or meaning of life, whether there is an afterlife, what free will means, and whether there is a God; while also evoking strong emotional responses such as the fear of death, solitude and loneliness. This series courageously dares to explore all these elements from various perspectives, experiences, and wisdom of those who in some way or another journey with cancer.

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The approach

The sequence of the programme episode will provide the listener a glimpse of what goes on from the diagnosis through to recovery or the loss and mourning of a loved one. Therefore, the series will start by speaking to professionals who would be involved in the diagnosis and communication of the news, and proceeds to explore the aftermath without shying away from the pain – physical and existential – which the people involved experience: dealing with the news, waiting, getting treatment, dealing with existential questions, doing tests and receiving updates, recovery, deterioration of health, dealing with loss, palliative care, death, mourning. To deal with this wide range of aspects, the list of interviewees will include an oncologist, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a nurse, a priest, patients, relatives – depending on the subject being discussed. The themes which will be weaved in throughout the series include: the experience of cancer, the stigma of cancer, the philosophical thinking associated with the illness, how illness changes one’s perspective on life, the slow losses of the cancer patient due to the progression of the illness, hope and hopelessness, the concept of waiting, the language used (lodger, battle language), loneliness, how faith helps and how it does not, different values that emerge, and how they centre, cancer patients as an inspiration, self-help, artistic expression, grief, anticipated grief and bereavement, death and dying, writing a will and so on and so forth.

Format of the programme

The first programme will provide a brief statistical profile of the current cancer situation in Malta and in Europe. Each programme will start with a brief literary extract pertaining to the theme to help the listeners prepare themselves for the rest of the content which takes the form of an interview with the guest which we expect to be rather emotionally heavy and existentially provoking.

The programmes will last half an hour and they will be in Maltese, except for one or two who may have foreign interviewees.

Presenter of the Programme

Ms Jenny Zammit, Counsellor and family therapist.


Should you wish to get involved in this project, please feel free to get in touch with us.

Pauline Dimech           Jenny Zammit