Videos launched to help children prepare for cancer treatment


By Christine Lavelle

A SERIES of short films are to be posted on youtube to help prepare children facing cancer treatment in hospital.

The six two-minute videos have been designed with children and parents in mind, and each addresses a different theme – going to the operating theatre, placing central lines, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and nutrition.

Aimed at kids aged between 10 and 12, the clips feature a friendly staff nurse who takes the viewer step-by-step through what they can expect upon arrival in hospital.

The online videos were launched yesterday (Wed) by the Children and Teenagers Scottish Cancer Network (CATSCAN) at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

They can also be downloaded from the CATSCAN website, and will be made available in DVD format.

Doctor Hamish Wallace, clinical lead for CATSCAN, and paediatric oncologist at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, said: “This was a really exciting project that came from the parents and patients who were part of our network.

“They felt that they needed something visual that could help understand the journey that the patients, and their children, were going to go on.

“It allows them to see things like what the nurses are going to wear when they go up to the operating theatre.”

Doctor Wallace said using outlets like broadcasting channels and websites is very important as it is often how young people go about accessing information.

He said: “A lot of the information to date has been written and we felt that we needed to moved up a gear and give them something more modern that could be available on the internet that they can look at time and time again by themselves.

“This could be not just for children with cancer having chemo, but for other children going to hospital who are having operations.

“We’ve known for a long time that preparation is vital for young people – if you tell them what’s going to happen they are much less likely to be frightened of it.”

Iona Mills, 11, from Edinburgh, is one of the patients featured in the films.

She was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in July last year and had to undergo four courses of chemotherapy at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

She said: “Although the staff in the ward were very friendly and helpful, I still found it quite frightening when I went into hospital.

“I think these films will help other children who are getting treatment because it will show them what to expect when they go into hospital.

The videos can also be used for younger children with adult supervision, and for teenagers to download themselves.

Nicola Sturgeon, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, was at the hospital to support the launch of the short film clips.

She said: “The videos are brilliant, they provide information for children and young people who are diagnosed with cancer, but they do it in a way that is simple and uses language that children can understand.

“It helps demystify a very complex and often very frightening process, and explains some of the language used.

“They will be of great benefit to both children and their parents with the frightening prospect of the treatment which comes with the diagnosis.

“Children and young people access information in different ways these days – they go on the internet and use youtube – so to have these videos available in those forms it is really important, it is increasing the chance of young making use of them.

“I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the importance of providing explanations and reassurance for young people facing the trauma and anxiety of treatment for cancer.

“Cancer and everything that goes with it is terrifying to anybody, but particularly so for young people.

“So to have the whole process and the treatments and what they will go through explained in a clear and compassionate way is really important.”