Cancer affects people around the globe, and the way it’s handled varies greatly. For the last two summers, I worked at Camp Good Days and Special Times, a summer camp dedicated to working with children affected by cancer, whether it be themselves, their siblings, or their parents. We even have kids that come from all over the world; Ethiopia, Belize, Bahamas, Spain and plenty more, therefore I’ve learned a little about cancer in other countries. But, my exposure to those affected by cancer is typically to forget about the cancer or to encourage a child to be a child again. Therefore, the focus has never been on treatment or what goes on in the hospitals these kids frequent. On the other end, being a biology major, I’ve learned about what causes cancer, the molecular fundamentals of cancer, the genetics of it, and the effects it has on the body.
For the first time, at Odense Hospital on my short study tour, I understood and saw first hand what cancer treatment was like, specifically in Denmark. We were able to meet with both a physician and physicist as they talked about radiotherapy. Much of this information was incredibly interesting to me, especially the physics of it because it finally made my two semester of physics worth it! Then, we got to tour parts of the hospital dedicated to radiotherapy cancer treatment. Not only were we able to see where the treatment occurs, we were able to go ‘behind the scenes’ and see this huge machine and the energy it takes. It truly opened my eyes to the importance of mechanics and physics in a hospital, the machine to those being treated is big and scary but clean cut and covers the complexity that is the mechanics behind it.
My favorite part of this visit was ‘the control room’ a room where we were able to see physicians, physicists and radiologists in action. We were able to see people’s scans and the work that goes into designing a treatment for that individual. It seemed incredibly complex and difficult, but it was astonishing to know that the work going into it would be life changing for an individual.
This visit really opened my eyes to the other side of cancer, and makes me so proud to work for such an amazing organization that works to help kids separate their childhood from their time in these hospitals.