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Funded project: Teddy's Radiotherapy Journey

Radiotherapy can be scary and confusing for children; who can at times be overwhelmed by the department, its machines, and the processes of treatment.

Enhancing treatment experiences for young cancer patients

It can also at times be difficult to explain to young children what is happening to them and around them, causing anxiety and potentially disrupting treatment if the child struggles to cooperate.

That’s why we are thrilled to hear about the difference which a children’s book called ‘Teddy’s Journey’, funded through our small grants programme, has had on young cancer patients in our region.

Weston Park Cancer Charity supporter, Yasmin Sabir, funded the printing of 30 copies of Teddy’s Journey – a book written by Carin Sweet, senior dosimetrist at Weston Park Cancer Centre. The publication demonstrates the process of receiving radiotherapy treatment for young cancer patients.

Here's Carin on the impact of Teddy's Radiotherapy Journey

“Teddy is used to show children how a mask will fit them with relation to the photos and steps in the book and give them encouragement that if Teddy can do it, then so can they.

“I created Teddy’s journey after a little girl asked for a mask making for her teddy when she had to have one made herself. She wanted to take Teddy with her and for him to have treatment too. She used Teddy to practice how she would lay on the bed and to reassure her during her treatment.

“I was inspired by the comfort it gave her knowing that she could practice with Teddy and take him with her on her journey. I wanted to create something that explained and showed children what would happen when they came for radiotherapy and had to have a mould made.”

It’s a perfect example of the finer details and the smaller touches which can make a huge difference to someone’s experience of cancer treatment. Treatment can take place without the book; it’s by no means a requirement.

However, it makes life just a tiny bit easier for children going through a time which can be extremely difficult.

“I love that Teddy’s Journey has had a positive impact for children having radiotherapy,” continued Carin.

“He’s been used many times to help alleviate the stress of not knowing what to expect. It’s a great feeling to know that something so small can bring a little bit of enjoyment and help understanding of such a scary process.”

Carin’s colleagues agreed with the impact the book has made since it was published.

‘’The Teddy’s journey book is absolutely great, it is the perfect tool in order to assist in the mask making process for our paediatric patients,” said senior dosimetrist, Seonaid.

“It allows us to show the patient exactly how the radiotherapy masks are made whilst helping to alleviate some of the difficulties that may arise whilst caring for children in our department, the photos are really helpful as it clearly demonstrates each step of the process.”

Spencer, a fellow senior dosimetrist at from Weston Park, said: “The book about Teddy’s journey was a great idea, it helps staff introduce what could be a very intimidating experience, and make it a more friendly, fun thing to do.

“It paints a lovely picture in the child's head instead of just scary sounding words, procedures, or machines. It helps us as staff show that if Teddy can do it, you can do it!"

This is one of the ways in which we enhance treatment experiences for anyone going through cancer in our region.