How a Star Wars mask helped this little cancer patient through radiation
A brave 8-year-old cancer victim who undertook his treatment dressed as movie characters has been declared free of the disease.
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A brave eight-year-old cancer victim who undertook his treatment dressed as movie characters has been declared free of the disease.

Evan Cornett, who suffered brain cancer, found his spirit uplifted by his doctors’ unique approach – they presented him with a radiation mask designed as his favourite Star Wars character.

Evan’s doctors at St Louis Children’s Hospital in St Louis, Missouri in the US have set up a programme to help ease the anxiety and fear of kids going through proton-beam therapy and to help them feel special. In Evan’s case, that meant dressing up as a clone trooper.

So far staff at the hospital have transformed the often-unappealing radiation masks into popular characters such as stormtroopers, Marvel Comic heroes, Disney princesses and members from Paw Patrol.

Child-life specialist Hannah Heimos started the project especially for Evan but soon gained the support of other staff members. They dressed up as stormtroopers when Evan first arrived for radiation, presented him with a mask and escorted him to the treatment wing of the hospital. All the while the Imperial March song played in the background.

Hannah says doing this for their young patients helps to ease their anxiety. “I think it gives the patients more choice during treatment. They can choose who they identify themselves as, whether it’s a superhero or a princess – it gives them more control and makes it more fun for them.

“If they’re obsessed with that character, they can act like them for the duration of their treatment. Evan’s a huge Star Wars fan. He’s been teaching me a lot about Star Wars but I still have so much more to learn!”

Evan’s mom, Emily Cornett, says she thinks the idea really helps to relax kids going through treatment.

“I hadn’t seen Star Wars until Evan was in hospital having his tumour removed and we watched a marathon of all the films. Though I know nothing about Star Wars, he’s a big fan just like his father.”

Evan was given the all-clear in March.

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