Chemotherapy has become a major industry. Not only because the drugs themselves are expensive, but also there are the side effect drugs, the radiation machines, and other gismos like the cyber knife. Is this the way cancer treatment will be forever? If it is going to move on maybe redesigning the treatment would give us cancer patients a boost. Or would it?
I walk into the day centre where people come for chemo from all over the world and I feel like I’m stepping back in time. There are subtle changes, the drugs have definitely progressed, but the delivery is the same and the side effects complex and not easy to manage. Maybe if the day care centre looked more 21st century new age medical treatments would follow. A room designed by Zaha Hadid; reclining chairs by Ron Arad; a few Damian Hirsts spotted around… might inspire, say, genetic manipulation centers to replace chemotherapy.
worst of Milan Furniture Fair 2010
It would be lovely to be given a designer bag like you get first class on airlines with ‘flight pajamas’ and nice socks, a blindfold, ear plugs, an iPod, an elegant pill box, a Smythson diary to note your side effects, and, of course, a designer vial for your urine sample, and one for sputum if needed. Also we’d need a menu for a lovely lunch, and maybe an “In Chemo” magazine. The most important thing would be a monitor for watching movies and a good list of movies. First class travel; first class chemo. And surely, being in England, we need a ‘tea lady’ to roll around offering lovely tea and biscuits (not the machine we have now).
Where would all this get us? I honestly don’t know. One still goes home tired and after all the initial pills wear off, sick with some kind of side effect. I don’t really mind the ‘old-fashioned’ daycare centre. I get a nice lunch served and allow myself a fill of not very good biscuits. The staff are always positive: they know me as soon as I come to the door, and I get a big welcome. I used to bring a DVD player, books and an iPod and now I just bring a book because after lunch I fall asleep until the treatment is over. I go home woozy from whatever sleeping stuff they give me and usually have to see my oncologist in this condition. Then I go home, tired for about three days, except that I sometimes can’t sleep at night and then the pills run out and I get periods of sickness. So it goes. No designer bags will help with that.
Love to hear from people who see it differently or would like to add to this. What are your experiences like?
Now lets re-think radiation. First we need something to watch while we are under the machine. Perhaps we should call James Turrell (the wonderful artist who does fabulous light works)? Or should we put in a video? I know they like to be able to speak to you so it might have to be soundless.
Once the machine starts rolling they need to sort out the sound it makes. Perhaps a video that went with the sound would make it a post modern experience and transform the bleeps into something more acceptable if not less frightening.
There is something scary about the way the attendants run out of the room, perhaps they should skip and dance out or wear a brightly colored coat (not heavy black rubber or whatever it is); and I don’t know what to do to make an uncomfortable position more comfortable. Any suggestions?
As to the operations, I had three about eighteen months ago and I’ve blocked them out. I have never understood why you need to be awakened for checks all night, but so be it. I learned that I hate morphine, but maybe that is just me, some people, not far away from my flat, actually go out of their way to inject it. I had a terrible nightmare with it in hospital and thought my head was coming off. And I hated losing my voice. But in general I got good care and two out of three of the operations (Breast and neck) went so well that I don’t remember much.
I did have drains in, which I went out with, I can’t believe I did that, but I did. Maybe drains could be redesigned so we can wear them as a piece of jewelry, the drip looking like a lava lamp. I hope I just went out among friends.
Can anyone think of a way to redesign cancer treatment? Let me know.