Often isolated within the medical setting, adolescents and young adults with cancer face unique challenges.
Traditionally, cancer patients fall into two distinct groups: adults and children.
“Teenagers in paediatric units struggle with crying babies and an environment which does not recognise their need to have some autonomy.
“Other adolescents and young adults in adult units are equally vulnerable to alienation in services that are not set up to deal with their psychosocial needs,” said Professor Alan Davidson, head of haematology and oncology at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.
Cape Town charity, Ari’s Cancer Foundation, developed a youth booth specifically aimed at the needs of adolescents and young adults to not only keep them busy while receiving treatment, but entertained too. The booth was officially launched at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.
The first of its kind in Africa, the R70 000 adolescent and young adult youth booth is a safe haven for adolescent and young adult patients – it provides a comfortable workspace and recreational area for patients to relax and be entertained in while they are undergoing treatment at the hospital.
It is a space they can call their own and to which they can escape from their condition for some time while within the hospital setting.
The relaxation pod has an iPad embedded into it that drops down. Patients will be able to use it to play games, browse the internet and stay connected on social media.
There is also a work station with a computer so that they can work on homework or projects if necessary, and there is plenty of shelf space for books and magazines.
“The idea is to give young adults a comfortable area to relax and be entertained while they are undergoing treatment at the hospital.
“This area is also designed to inspire the type of colourful and positive energy that we hope to give to the young adults, rather than a typical scenario where they tend to be consumed with the negative thoughts of the treatment,” said Alan Jansen from Ari’s Cancer Foundation.
Ari’s Cancer Foundation aims to set up similar adolescent and young adult youth booths in oncology units around South Africa.
* Ariana Jansen, who sadly lost her battle to cancer on 1 May 2011 at the age of 24, was the inspiration for Ari’s Cancer Foundation, which was established in 2012.