Chemotherapy Rooms

Health Watch

When cancer patients are administered chemotherapy, it can mean long hours sitting in a chair in a room with nothing more than medical equipment.

But now, researchers want to know how nature might calm these patients and help the healing process.

We hear a lot about how eating the right foods and exercising outdoors is so important, but how far does nature go in healing people with life-threatening illnesses? Can chemo rooms with a view help those battling cancer?

Cancer patients spend long hours alone in a room.

“I need to get chemo and it takes usually seven, eight hours,” said 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. 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,” said Ashley Verzwyvelt, Registered Nurse, Houston Methodist.

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. Our food comes from nature. We are part of nature,” said Verzwyvelt.

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

Meanwhile, in the room with no view or V.R.

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

Making a tough time just a little bit easier.

The study, which will include 36 cancer patients is ongoing and was funded by a non-profit conservation group, studying how factors in nature lead to better health.

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