Stuffed duck helps children with cancer cope

Published: Mar. 21, 2014 at 11:17 PM CDT
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Amarillo, TX - It's small, yellow and cuddly...and it's making a difference for children who are diagnosed with cancer.

At first glance the duck seems like your typical stuffed animal. But, if you look a little closer, you will notice he has a pretty important job to do.

"It's a great way to interact with patients that have been newly diagnosed with cancer," said Becky Ringlbauer who is a Child Life Specialist at Northwest Texas Hospital.

Gabe the Chemo-Duck allows medical professionals to visually show children and their parents what the child will experience during chemotherapy treatment.

"Before the Chemo-Duck all we could do is just describe it," Kristina Hudson who is a Pediatrics Shift Supervisor at BSA Hospital said.

But since the Amarillo chapter of the Children's Miracle Network began funding the Chemo -Ducks a little over a year ago, children at both Northwest and BSA hospitals can see what their port will look like and give a comforting visual to this difficult experience.

"Having a fun little something to hold and hug and then having something they can actually touch and see and feel and know that, okay this is what it's going to feel like and look like, it helps alleviate some of that fear," explained Hudson.

In addition to being an excellent teaching tool, the Chemo-Duck also helps parents and patients with the emotional side of going through chemotherapy.

"For the child to have something special that makes them, that helps make them feel special, it helps the parents hearts, it helps them also see that we care, we care about their child, we care about what their child is going through and we understand, what they're nervous about and what they're worried about," said Hudson. "It doesn't take all their stress away, but it  definitely considerably helps a lot."

Gabe the Chemo-Duck also comes with a book and DVD which helps address other parts of chemotherapy such as hair loss.

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