Infusionarium Aims to Take Trauma Out of Chemotherapy for Young

Chemotherapy (Gerry Broome/AP)
Chemotherapy (Gerry Broome/AP)
Chemotherapy (Gerry Broome/AP)

Orange, Calif. (New York Times) — Nick Meza, 18, recently had another five-day round of chemotherapy at the outpatient clinic here at Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Usually those days drag for Nick, an Eagle Scout with a flashing grin, a hunger for conversation, and acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Like most patients who get intravenous medication at a pediatric clinic, Nick typically receives treatment in a small, curtained cubicle with hospital-green walls, outdated video games that are often broken, tiny TV monitors, and dividers that don’t muffle hallway clatter or the wails of a child in the next cubicle.

But now Nick, whose baseball cap doesn’t disguise his gleaming bald head, emerges from his cubicle, holding his IV pole. He saunters down the hall toward velvety black curtains. Parting them, he slips inside and eases into a reclining chair.

Adrenalized thumping music fills the makeshift space, called the Infusionarium. Roiling close-ups of extreme sports spring across four high-definition monitors, each five-feet tall: skateboarding stunts, parachute-skiing, kayaking over waterfalls.

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