To immobilize very young children, a mask of the youngster's face is made to hold the head perfectly still during cranial radiation treatment. Great care should be taken to ensure that making the mask is not traumatic. This can often be accomplished by utilizing play therapy to demonstrate the procedure.
Masks are made from a lightweight, porous, mesh material. First, the technologist should explain and demonstrate the entire mask-making process to the child. They can make a mask of the hand to demonstrate how it feels and looks. The child then lies down on a table. The technologist places a sheet of the mask material in warm water to soften it. This warm mesh sheet is placed over the childs face and quickly molded to her features. The child can breathe the entire time through the mesh material but must hold still for several minutes as the mask hardens. The mask is lifted off the childs face, and the technologist cuts holes in it for the eyes, nostrils, and mouth.
Very young children, or those who have difficulty holding still, are sedated to make the mask.
The cancer center staff had scheduled two hours for mask-making for my 3-year-old daughter. I asked them to explain very quietly every step in the process. I told her that I would be holding her hand, and I promised that it would not hurt, but it would feel warm. I asked her to choose a story for me to recite as they molded the warm material to her face, to make the time go faster. She picked "Curious George Goes to the Hospital. " She held perfectly still; I recited the story; the staff were gentle and quick; and the entire procedure took less than twenty minutes.
Shawn (2 years old) needed to be sedated for his ten doses of radiation. They also made his mask while he was anesthetized.
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Although nobody gets a parenting manual or bible in the delivery room, it is our duty as parents to try to make our kids as well rounded, happy and confident as possible. It is a lot easier to bring up great kids than it is to try and fix problems caused by bad parenting, when our kids have become adults. Our children are all individuals - they are not our property but people in their own right.