From Costumes to Parades to Bouncy Balls: Medical Realities Sit in the Back Seat as Patients Embrace the Opportunities at DCH

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 My oncology and hematology classroom experience began today. The atmosphere upstairs is much different than below. The oncology and hematology floor at DCH has an outpatient clinic attached that is for all cancer and blood patients, especially patients receiving chemotherapy. In addition to the clinic since the floor is much more focused on particular illnesses, the environment is different than the acute care floor. Recently staff members shaved their head in honor of the patients. All the students seem to relate better to each other, and the optimism on the 10th floor at DCH is overwhelming considering the circumstances, it is definitely the height of finding hope in everything life brings. For example on one of the patient’s doors it said “The Brave Patient X.”

In addition to the new environment today surrounding the people on the floor, the classroom is a new system as well. The students on the 10th floor stay longer in the hospital than the students on the acute care floor and that changes the classroom dynamic. In the classroom students have boxes of all their projects and the teachers are constantly in contact with the student’s schools to ensure that the students stay on track. To further explain the interactions that occur between the teachers and schools one of the physicians from the outpatient clinic came into the classroom today and approached the teacher and asked “I have a patient that you worked with in the past that is still having trouble in school because the school isn’t very accommodating and they are struggling academically as well as socially. I was wondering if you could speak with the patient and then assess their problems at school and write a letter as well as follow up with the school in the future.” The teacher followed up immediately, which is always a process that occurs in all Hospital School Programs.


I was making a bouncy ball and beginning a project on the solar system this afternoon when I returned to classroom to find not a soul in sight. Voices began to echo down the hallway of the ward and I followed the sound to find all the students as new figures: dressed up as Cinderella, a witch, a ninja and a princess. The ubiquitous smiles of the people on the ward carried on as the patients dressed up as their favorite characters and figures and paraded to music around the ward, dancing and putting reality behind to find hope and happiness in everything possible.

The Chelsea Hick’s Foundation (CHF) is the sponsor of Chelsea’s Closet that supplied the patients with the costumes this afternoon at DCH. Chelsea’s Closet is a portable closet with boys and girls costumes for patients to have a dress up party once a month. The goal of the CHF is to invoke laughter and smiles from young children struggling from illnesses as well as the family trying to handle the diagnosis and treatment. It keeps kids kids when they are battling a serious illness such as cancer.


Below are pictures of the classroom on the 10th floor as well as projects I completed with students. The pictures of clothes below is an image Chelsea’s Closet, the foundation I described above. I will describe more of my interactions with patients on the oncology and hematology floor later, as I build relationships with the students on the new floor as I did on the acute care floor.