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These painted masks are helping children to get through their radiotherapy

Viral news | Published:

Wearing a mask keeps the young patients still and they do not need to be anaesthetised.

(Lobke Marsden/St James’ Hospital)

These epic masks have been created for children undergoing radiotherapy to keep them still during treatment.

A mask made for a young radiotherapy patient (Lobke Marsden/St James' Hospital)
Batman was chosen by one patient (Lobke Marsden/St James’ Hospital)

One girl wanted to look like “the queen of radiotherapy” in her individually designed mask which includes a crown and a striking pendant.

A mask made for a young radiotherapy patient (Lobke Marsden/St James' Hospital)
This creation helped the “queen of radiotherapy” (Lobke Marsden/St James’ Hospital)

The team at the Bexley Wing found that plain masks can look scary for younger patients and add to the worry of their treatment.

The masks are used by radiographers to keep the patient still so that the treatment targets the right area. They are fastened or clipped to the treatment bed.

Marsden said: “Since painting the masks we found children are more cooperative when it comes to wearing their masks for their daily treatment.

“An item that was previously perceived as frightening now becomes something that makes them feel ‘braver’ when they wear it or simply becomes something meaningful as the design is completely chosen by them.”

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A mask made for a young radiotherapy patient (Lobke Marsden/St James' Hospital)
The Captian America mask (Lobke Marsden/St James’ Hospital)

“I absolutely love to see the patients smile after seeing their painted mask,” Marsden added. “It is a lovely feeling to be able to turn something quite cold and frightening looking into something personal and meaningful to them.”

This red and black Darth Maul mask gained extra special attention when it was shared online.

A mask made for a young radiotherapy patient (Lobke Marsden/St James' Hospital)
This mask won celebrity fans (Lobke Marsden/St James’ Hospital)

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While it was exciting to get their reactions, the best bit for Marsden is the response from her young patients.

“The biggest compliment was when a little boy who found the mask-making process quite upsetting, didn’t want to pick up or even see his plain mask as it reminded him of the horrible experience,” she said.

“After I painted his mask into Iron Man he became excited and went from not wanting it near him to wanting to wear it. This child then had his treatment without the need of a general anaesthetic for his radiotherapy treatment.”

A mask made for a young radiotherapy patient (Lobke Marsden/St James' Hospital)
The My Little Pony-inspired design (Lobke Marsden/St James’ Hospital)

Marsden added: “We hope that other hospitals will be inspired by our work in the same way we were and will be encouraged to introduce this to their setting.”

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