Starchitechture to Help Cancer Patients

While the main weapons against cancer are chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and prescription drugs, some feel that the environment in which these treatments are administered should be just as important. 

The Maggie Centers Initiative, a project stemming from the United Kingdom, seeks to turn treatment facilities into naturally lit, aesthetically pleasing buildings that relax the patients and make them feel comfortable throughout an often-uncomfortable process.  The buildings are to be flooded with natural light, with many views of the outdoors, and feel very spacious, eschewing the cramped and dimly lit treatment rooms that patients have had for so long.  The centers operate on what they’ve dubbed “the architectural placebo effect.”

Unfortunately, where there is a good idea, there will always be someone to criticize it, and some feel that the money put towards these architectural projects would serve the public better if it was put into research programs to find new drugs or new equipment.  Some even go so far as to say that these buildings are an excuse to win architecture awards by exploiting cancer.

Having witnessed my mother go through treatment for breast cancer roughly 2 years ago, I can tell you that while the drugs and treatments that she was put on made all the difference in the world, her environment absolutely played a big part as well.  She even said that after she left the treatment room, having spent sometimes 5 hours there at a time, she needed to sit on her sun porch and watch the birds while reading a good book to get her mood back.

The people who started the Maggie Centers Initiative aren’t saying that simply looking outdoors will replace modern medicine as a treatment for cancer.  They just feel that a pleasant atmosphere to undergo treatment in can only help the process and improve the mood of the patients who are there.  As far as I’m concerned, they’re taking a look at the whole picture and finding ways to improve the entire treatment process, and I applaud them for that.

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