Young patients in need of radiation treatment get boost from arsenal of art

Courtney Belot

MILWAUKEE -- A radiation therapist at Froedtert Hospital is designing and painting protective masks for young patients in need of radiation treatment.

“I`ve made 16,” Courtney Belot said in early January.

Paint and permanent markers make up her arsenal of art supplies. Belot has painted mesh masks to look like army helmets, princesses and pandas. For one young patient, she painted a popular emoji.

“She wanted a poop emoji mask. She laughed ,” Belot said. “She enjoyed it as much as you could enjoy a treatment mask.”

Belot says the idea to help brighten the lives of young patients going through radiation treatment came from Jamie Hansen.

“They`re in there by themselves. Totally alone,” Jamie Hansen said. Her son Eli was first diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2016.

He went through a lot of treatment at Froedtert before his health got better after intense treatments, she said.

“I thought if we could maybe decorate his mask to help him feel like he was Spiderman, like he was a superhero, maybe that would help him be brave and be more willing to be in there by himself,” Jamie Hansen said.

Jamie Hansen designed a Spiderman mask for her son.

“I was excited that it wasn`t just white, and it had the color,” Eli Hansen said.

It gave him the confidence to face the treatment. Belot made Eli Hansen a ninja mask.

“I like it because I feel like a character of the mask I have on,” he said.

The designs do not get in the way of important radiation therapy. Belot said it offers children a chance to have a voice.

“They don`t get a lot of options, I feel like in their treatments this is something that they get to pick,” Belot said.