Providing Extra Comfort for Radiation Patients
Sitting in the waiting room before radiation therapy can be scary. This is a moment when patients are often compelled to face the reality of their diagnosis and accept treatment that can temporarily make them feel unwell. Employees who watch our patients sitting among strangers wish they could help them feel nurtured in these moments.
Roswell Park’s Teresa Kishel, Senior Radiation Therapist, went out of her way to provide comfort to patients by offering them a soft, colorful shawl. “A patient came in a few years ago wearing a shawl,” explained Kishel. “I thought it was good idea. There is something about putting on a medical gown that makes you feel vulnerable. This wrap covers them, offers them modesty and keeps them comfortable while wearing a gown with an open back against chairs that can be cold.” Patients are offered their choice of colors and may keep the garment, and enjoy its comfort throughout their treatment, and afterward.
Debra Easton-Dawson appreciates the comfort of the shawl, especially since she is in the Radiation Medicine Department five days a week. With 15 treatments to complete, she acknowledges there are times when she feels cold or not quite well.
Brandy Harriger agrees. “Some women like me have to wear the gown open in the back. The shawl covers my back,” she says, as well as holes in gowns that are used for heart monitors and other medical equipment.”
Never miss another Cancer Talk blog!
Sign up to receive our monthly Cancer Talk e-newsletter.
Though it’s a simple idea, providing the shawls required determination and perseverance on the part of staff. Kishel began this endeavor four years ago and managed to secure significantly reduced pricing through Etsy. The company offered to package them with a special label made just for the patients of Roswell Park that says, “Wrapped in love from your Radiation Team.” They are made in the USA and are donated to patients along with a sample of organic, natural lotion.
Kishel’s coworker, Angela Szczygiel, sees first-hand how much patients appreciate the shawls and credits her with the dedication to the project and securing funding. “A colleague assisted in obtaining donor funds from the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation to be able to continue offering the shawls to our patients.” The shawls are also available through the Resource Center for patients receiving chemotherapy.
“It is the patient’s choice whether to use the shawl,” says Kishel. “It makes you feel a little pretty and is a reminder that you are not just a vulnerable patient. A lot of people were touched by it. We just want their visits here to be as comfortable as it can be. The shawl helps provide a little dignity.”