Christmas in Day Oncology

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A report from Lama Majaj about cancer patients decorating the Chemotherapy Day unit at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre

When cancer crosses a person’s path, it is a life-altering experience for the individual and their family. Patients receiving chemotherapy treatment can visit the Olivia newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre every day for many weeks. Amongst radiation, surgery, diagnosis, results, probabilities and expectancies, Christmas can be an emotional time for patients and their carers. For some it is a celebration and for others they might need time to think about what they have been through and how this will affect their future. Since arts in Healthcare interventions have been shown to be helpful to cancer patients at different stages in the course of their illness; medical staff in the Chemotherapy Day Unit partnered with 347 patients and carers in making Christmas decorations as part of the Austin Health Department Christmas Competition. Held every year; it focuses on engaging patients and staff in meaningful arts initiatives that enhances the atmosphere of the hospital and fosters creativity, engagement and opportunities for quality improvement projects. Patients chose from a variety of medical tubes, pipettes, yarn, fabric and natural objects and created ornaments that combined medicine and art into one form.

Picture 024 Patients reflected on their experiences in the following comments:

“I found the project made my long day go so quickly It took my mind off my usual thoughts and cheered me up I had a bit of a giggle and it was lovely to socialise more with staff and patients”

 “The atmosphere was uplifting for myself and others I think this is a very worthwhile project and can see many benefits in some form of ongoing projects”

 “I found doing the Christmas decoration project to be very therapeutic and relaxing.  The time in treatment went quickly and it took my mind off being treated for cancer”

 “It’s a great idea to get everyone involved.  Time flies when you’re having fun.  4 hours felt like 1 hour and it gives patients and families an opportunity to talk amongst themselves on what decoration they are making next as well as laughing at one another.”

Picture 025 “During my 1st visit of 6 hours) I observed many people taking part and without exception the result was smiling, chatty people who became engaged with staff/nurses in a positive way.  It also seemed to enthuse staff/nurses to create a pleasing workplace.”

 “I think it was a great idea.  Would be wonderful to have this great for patients and carers”

 “It made me feel useful as I sat here watching my son have chemotherapy.  Thank you”

 “I really enjoyed creating Christmas decoration.  It takes your mind off the reason for being here and gives you something to focus your attention on.  Very relaxing, Thank you”

“I think you should have someone to show people how to knit to pass time.”

“It’s like a holiday resort here – I’ve been given wireless access, have been given something to eat and drink and learned how to make a tassle…I love doing this stuff”

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Lama Majaj

Manager Arts in Healthcare

Ambassador of the Red Pencil Humanitarian Mission

Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre

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