Having radiation therapy can be a daunting experience – but the caring attitude of the staff and the soothing nature of the treatment rooms are ways Waikato Hospital helps create a better experience of radiation therapy for patients.
In July we featured a recent upgrade to the Green Room on our Newsroom website, one of four concrete bunkers at Waikato Hospital which house the radiation treatment machines (known as linacs). When a new linac was installed in the Green Room, Waikato Hospital took the opportunity to renovate the room itself, including new paintwork, new artwork and the installation of our first sky ceiling, a backlit photograph on the bunker ceiling that looks just like a skylight above the linac’s treatment bed.
A few months after the Green Room was reopened, we went back to find out what patients thought of it.
Cushla Tahana – breast cancer patient
Cushla Tahana, a 36-year old mum from Rotorua, was one of the first patients to experience treatment in the refurbished Green Room. Earlier in 2016 her life was turned upside down after being diagnosed in January with grade 3 breast cancer. What followed was four months of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and then radiation therapy.
Cushla says she was fairly nervous coming to radiation for the first time. “I was coming out of my comfort zone into the unknown.” She says the radiation therapy staff made her feel more comfortable and made the experience easier, and the sky ceiling gave her something to focus on when she was lying on the treatment bed.
“The staff are amazing, the room is amazing, and it just calms the nerves before you hop on the bed. I’m not so nervous anymore, at all.”
Staff report a really positive reaction from many other patients too. The whole idea is to provide a positive experience for patients during treatment that can last from 10 to 60 minutes.
This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Radiation therapy is an important part of some cancer treatments. The machine precisely targets the cancer cells with a beam of radiation to destroy them. It is often used after a partial or full mastectomy to help kill any cancer cells that may still be present in the area of surgery.