Kids fighting cancer to be given superhero masks to help them through radiotherapy

  • Published: 14 Dec 2017

Made-to-measure masks have been created to help put Scottish kids at ease during treatment, which can be frightening to experience at a young age.

Fiona and Hilary creating masks

Fiona and Hilary creating masks

They have been designed and made by DJCAD graduates and clinical technologists Fiona McCulloch and Hilary Sturrock who have used funding from a charity to make the masks at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre (BWOSCC) in Glasgow.

Until now, patients were asked to lie on the treatment table and the mask was gently placed over their head and neck and fixed to the table, which can be claustrophobic.

It can be a traumatic experience for a child to go through but cancer charity Beatson hope that specially made masks designed to look like Batman, the Hulk or Pikachu will help.

The colourful child-friendly masks are made using water-based acrylic paint to revamp plain radiotherapy masks to help put kids at ease.

The mask and straps will then be stored at the hospital for when they undergo their treatment.

Fiona said: “Radiotherapy treatment wearing one of these masks can understandably be a very frightening experience for children, and can often feel claustrophobic.

“It’s fantastic to see the positive impact the designs are having, and it’s such a pleasure working with patients and creating their ideas and designs.”

Radiographers at the BWOSCC hope that this initiative will see a decreased use of anaesthetic, which is sometimes required to calm patients and limit movement.

Hilary said: “I feel grateful to have the opportunity to put my previous study toward such a worthwhile and positive experience for these young patients.

“Although some design requests can start off as a challenge to envision, we have had such great feedback.

“The radiographers treating these patients have commented on the positive impact a personalised mask or device makes to the child’s experience.”

Five-year-old patient Lara has a fairy princess mask which she believes is helping her a lot.

She said: “My mask is helping me a lot. It squashes me tight and I love the painting and jewels on it.

“I love that it is a fairy princess and has my name on it, which is my favourite bit.

“My mask is lovely and googly, and I like that it squashes me tight like mummy cuddling me.”

Molly, aged 12, said: “Although Radiotherapy is painless, the machine is huge and being strapped down and told to stay completely still is quite scary.

“Having my arm device hand painted in a vibrant colourful design created especially for me, added a personal touch and made the treatment feel less clinical.

“My strap is a lovely, a personal souvenir of my time spent in Glasgow.”

The clinical technologists have so far recreated Batman, Pikachu, a tiger, the Hulk and a butterfly.

 Lorraine Whyte, NHS practice education radiographer and Beatson Cancer Charity funded post, said: “It’s helping make a big difference to our younger patients’ confidence when they undergo their treatment.”

 

"I feel grateful to have the opportunity to put my previous study toward such a worthwhile and positive experience for these young patients.Although some design requests can start off as a challenge to envision, we have had such great feedback."

Hilary Sturrock