IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Sometimes the small things matter most

Patient Stories

November 21, 2019

Whether you’ve personally experienced cancer, heard stories or seen bumper stickers, you know cancer treatment is a challenge.

“With cancer radiation, you lose your ability to focus,” says IU Health Simon Cancer Center patient Kathy Elder. “Brain fog is real.”

Kathy says the best part of her therapy was a device 3D-printed by the IU Health 3D Innovations Lab. Called an AVATAR, which stands for Audio Vision Assisted Therapeutic Ambience in Radiotherapy, it was made available to Kathy to use during her radiation treatments.

“The longer you can hold your breath during radiation, the more radiation you can receive,” Kathy explains. “I watched a bar graph on the AVATAR screen to see how much longer I needed to hold my breath. This was huge for me. Instead of my treatment taking 30 minutes, we were able to cut my session time in half.”

Kathy laughs while recalling the 3D-printed AVATAR device. “It could stand some improvements,” she says. “It’s a little wobbly when clamped to the treatment table.”

When you give during Giving Tuesday, you are helping to design the next generation AVATAR 2.0 – a fabrication that will allow those undergoing cancer treatment to have a better patient experience. Enhancements will allow radiation therapists to send notes of encouragement and instructions to patients during radiation therapy.

On Giving Tuesday, Dec. 3, you can give to bring comfort and care to patients like Kathy. You can also see how AVATAR increased accuracy of radiation and eliminated the need for daily anesthesia for a five-year-old patient named Jolene. Visit www.iuhealthfoundation.org/givingtuesday.

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