Froedtert creates kid-friendly room for young cancer patients
Adult hospital makes waiting for radiation therapy less imposing
It isn't only Children's Hospital of Wisconsin that has children as patients. Children with cancer sometimes require radiation oncology services and expertise, and this is provided at Froedtert & the Medical College, an adult hospital.
Inspired by a young patient, Froedtert has created a child-friendly waiting room.
Emily De Young of Neenah, who as a 4-year-old had surgery for a rare form of brain cancer, was hospitalized at Children's Hospital for seven weeks, and over the next six weeks had about 30 sessions of radiation oncology therapy — one every weekday — at Froedtert, said Beth Strohbusch, spokeswoman at Froedtert.
Emily and her mother stayed during the week with relatives in the Milwaukee area, to avoid the long drive home to Neenah every day.
"When she came, this room was like a typical holding area for patients who are gowned," Strohbusch said.
Waiting for her turn in a bland adult waiting room, day after day, was not a lot of fun for Emily, especially compared to the experience at Children's, where everything is child-friendly. Finally her mom, Kate De Young, asked her daughter's doctor, radiation oncologist Malika Siker, if the room could be improved, Strohbusch said.
Siker approached the Froedtert Hospital Foundation, and $35,000 to construct the room was raised through donations from Froedtert physicians and staff, community foundations, and the vendors who built it.
The room is stocked with balls, video games, books, dinosaur figures, color-changing lights, toys, and a photo signed by Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Earlier this month, Emily, wielding an oversize pair of scissors, did the official ribbon-cutting on the room.
"Waiting for radiation treatment created lots of anxiety for Emily," Kate De Young said, in a statement, on her first visit to the room. "I thought it would be helpful for families like mine to have a more child-friendly environment that distracted them from sitting and dwelling on the procedure to come. Seeing this room for the first time is so gratifying, and I can't thank the people of Children's and Froedtert enough for saving my little girl's life."
Strohbusch said that while childhood cancers requiring radiation therapy are uncommon, Froedtert treats five to seven such cases a month.
Emily today is healthy and lively, and attends preschool.
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