The Magic Castle grants wishes for pediatric cancer patients who complete their radiation therapy, thanks to The Children's Cancer Foundation.
For very young cancer patients, the process of daily visits to the hospital for radiation therapy can be an overwhelming experience. Now, thanks to The Children's Cancer Foundation, the staff of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center (UMGCC) has a whimsical and fun way to help ease children's fears and encourage them through the radiation therapy process.
At the start of treatment, each child is invited to write three wishes on a slip of paper and place it inside a Magic Castle located in the patient waiting area. The child is then told that the Magic Castle princess will come after everyone has left and grant one of the wishes. On the final day of treatment, the child receives their gift and celebrates with family members and staff.
Funding for the project comes from The Children's Cancer Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for research and treatment of childhood cancer and to improving the quality of life of pediatric cancer patients and their families.
Dr. William Regine, chief of Radiation Oncology, was aware of a similar project at another hospital, and championed the concept of a Magic Castle at UMGCC. He felt that having a way to ease kids' stress about the treatment process was not only important, but essential: “There is such a high level of anxiety in kids, and creating this concept has made our youngest patients feel even better when they are finished their treatment.”
Radiation Oncology marketing manager Jill Rosenberg was instrumental in launching the Magic Castle project. “We are extremely grateful for the support of The Children’s Cancer Foundation for turning patients’ wishes into gifts they previously only dreamed of owning. The castle provides a light at the end of the tunnel that gives the patients something to look forward to at the end of their treatment,” says Rosenberg. So far, pediatric patients have received gifts ranging from Ipods and Gameboys to TV/DVD players.
She notes that an added benefit has been bringing the staff, and even other patients, closer together in celebrating each child’s accomplishment in completing treatment.
Dr. Regine and the Radiation Oncology staff hope that the Magic Castle will continue to make dealing with radiation therapy just a little bit easier for their pediatric cancer patients. As Dr. Regine says, “It makes a difference. Some of these patients may not have gotten through their treatment otherwise, due to the high anxiety level associated with this type of treatment.”
By: Katie Campbell
For more information on the Magic Castle, pediatric oncology services, or other programs and services of the Greenebaum Cancer Center, please call 1-800-888-8823.