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Battling cancer virtually

Published on October 21, 2015 at 14:42 / Updated on March 3, 2020 at 14:51

An on-line video game helps children battling cancer to better understand their disease while encouraging treatment adherence.

Although cancer is never “cool”, it is even less so when you are a 15-year-old teenager. Losing your hair, losing or gaining a lot of weight or dealing with a nasty bout of acne because you have to take medications, is difficult to take at any age, but even more so during adolescence. Teenagers afflicted with cancer do not live their disease the same way younger children or adults do. Even if they are old enough to be responsible for their treatment, they are unlikely to fully comprehend the repercussions of treatment non-adherence.

“Re-Mission” is a video game that was conceived by HopeLab, a company from California, and is offered for free on the net in English, French and Spanish. The main character in the game is a nanobot named Roxxi. Roxxi travels through the bodies of fictitious young patients who are suffering from various types of cancer. Her goal is to destroy cancer cells, combat bacterial infections and manage life-threatening side effects caused by either the medications, or the cancers themselves.

HopeLab tested the repercussions Re-Mission had on the quality of life and cancer knowledge of 375 cancer patients between the ages of 13 and 29, living in the United States, Canada and Australia. The preliminary results are encouraging and seem to show that the game improves the quality of life and increases knowledge of the disease. It also favours treatment adherence.

HopeLab’s Website also offers young cancer patients a forum where they can discuss the game, but also any other subject they are interested in. This forum can also contribute in improving the quality of life of teenagers by giving them the opportunity to express themselves about their disease and to chat with other kids that are going through the same life-altering ordeal.

Cancer leaves patients dejected and discouraged. This game can help kids visualise and better understand the monster that has invaded their body and is making them extremely ill. Even if only for a game, they can physically battle and win the fight against cancer.

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