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An Invention and Intervention to the Cancer Patient Experience
In the medical world, treating the disease takes precedence over treating the individual. This omission of self has constructed a collection of sterile hospitals that are devoid of empathy towards the human as an individual and as part of a greater community. Patients drift along a preset path to recovery from parking their car to leaving treatment. By gutting and simplifying the interior structure of the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center as a real-world example, I provide a programmatically-ambiguous space into which I transpose a new landscape of experiences that will be accessible by mobilizing cancer treatment with an infusion sleeve. The patients will have the choice of what experiences (ranging from educational to recreational) to engage in thus personalizing their cancer treatment in a public setting.
Both my brother and my grandmother had cancer. Because of who they were and where they received treatment, their experiences were drastically different. My brother, an extrovert with an appetite for conversation, became mute in his clinic’s deserted and silent waiting room. On the other hand, my grandmother only wished for silence to lull her to sleep, but was greeted with the buzz of babbling doctors and beeping machines in her large Pennsylvania hospital.
Cancer affects everyone (either directly or indirectly); it doesn’t discriminate. Our healthcare’s response to this widespread problem was to forego any personalized treatment in favor of one more neutral to all. In this healthcare system, the patient is at the mercy of the treatment which is why it can be such a burden on the individual as he or she feels powerless, but what if there was a way in which the patient could choose what form of treatment they received?
My solution was to mobilize cancer treatment. By utilizing current technology and creating a mobile platform for drug administration, patients would be able to take control of a stressful experience. This infusion sleeve served as the missing element connecting the patient to the center. Its very presence in the system allowed me to rewrite the journey map for a patient removing the waiting room.
Precedents and Infusion Sleeve
Once treatment was mobilized, the linear narrative of receiving treatment would be unraveled and the interior space of the center would become superfluous. I could then intervene by reimagining the space as a sort of “wonderland” with the sleeve as the interior’s golden ticket. Cancer is already such a drain on a patient’s mental fortitude; why not provide an experience that would distract the patient making cancer as fun as one can?
When dealing with the interior space, I began by creating miniature models that started off representing different moods of the patient, but as I progressed, they evolved into representations of micro-landscapes. I played with these models combining them to conceive of new spaces. Because of how ambiguous the models were in terms of scale, I could envision them as a room, as the center itself, or even as an instance—or multiple strung together—that a patient would experience while meandering through the center.