Health Watch: Giving patients a relaxed chemotherapy experience

Cancer patients spend long hours alone in a room.

"I need to get chemo and it takes usually seven, eight hours," says Rick Shojaei.

So, researchers are studying whether views of nature impact a patient's healing.

Using a traditional room, a virtual reality room, and one with a view of a luscious outdoor garden, they are measuring pain, blood pressure and saliva cortisol, which indicates stress.

"We have so many patients, especially first-time coming in here not knowing what to expect, so anxious, so tense," says Ashley Verzwyvelt, RN. "You can see the fear in their face. And then, when you give them such a spectacular view, such a natural view, it instantly relaxes them."

The project is the brainchild of Ashley and colleague Renee Stubbins, who secured funding to build the garden on a previously empty rooftop outside the chemo rooms.

"As a dietician, I do believe we have this innate connection to nature," Stubbins said. "Our food comes from nature. We are part of nature."

The virtual reality goggles allow patients to interact with nature scenes filled with animals in the wild.

Meanwhile, it's different in the room with no view or virtual reality.

"In a room like this, you feel pretty isolated," Shoejaei said. "But, in a room like a garden, that you got view to look out, it is a big difference."

Making a tough time just a little bit easier.
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