Each day, 42 American families will receive the devastating news that their child or teenager has been diagnosed with cancer, according to the Children's Cancer Research Fund. When patients and their families begin treatment at a cancer center, the care is often very time consuming and complex. Many patients will spend full days in the hospital for chemotherapy treatments, and then if they experience any side effects to the treatment, extended in-patient admissions may be required. As a result, the hospital can quickly become like a second home.
Linendoll recognized the need to bring distraction technology into the hospital setting after volunteering for many years in pediatric cancer hospitals and getting to know many patients and their families. During this time, she met Cole Winnefeld, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was only 5 years old. Cole enjoyed drawing and playing with Legos during his treatment and developed a special bond with Linendoll, telling her she was his R2-D2 and he was her C-3PO. Cole sadly lost his fight with cancer in 2015, living well beyond his estimated prognosis thanks to clinical trials. In order to preserve his legacy, the Winnefeld family created the Batcole Foundation to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research.
"For me, this is a true passion project because it brings together the best of medicine, technology, media and most importantly the lived experience of Cole and his family," said Linendoll, who now serves on the board of directors for the Batcole Foundation. "Through the power of printing and virtual reality, we have been able to improve the hospital environment for children and teens who are stuck in treatment rooms, sometimes thousands of miles away from their homes."
In alliance with the Batcole Foundation, HP is providing its graphics printing technology to make over hospital rooms from floor to ceiling. In one of the first hospital installations, HP customized wallpaper murals and wall decals based on Cole's original drawings. Additionally, HP is generously supporting the integration of Virtual Reality (VR) technology into cancer treatment centers. Linendoll says VR is a highly effective distraction technology in the hospital setting, as it allows patients to be transported from the long treatment days into immersive "other worlds," which feels like stepping into their own 3-D movie. Patients simply strap on a VR headsets and can be instantly transported to virtual surroundings allowing them to do things such as fly airplanes, scuba dive or chase dinosaurs.
"Bringing Cole's art to life through this high-tech printing has completely changed the feeling in these hospital rooms, making them so much more upbeat and kid-friendly," said Carol Winnefeld, Cole's mother. "It's bittersweet for me because I remember each one of these drawings and exactly what age and what treatment he was having at the time. It's an honor to Cole's personality to have these drawings come to life on the hospital walls for other patients and family members to enjoy. We have some difficult memories, but also some very joyful ones. It's a milestone for us to share his legacy and be able to improve care for other pediatric cancer patients."
To learn more about and donate to the Batcole Foundation visit: www.batcole.foundation/donate.