Pediatric cancer patients get some super inspiration
Superheroes are offering more than just entertainment to young cancer patients in Brazil. Thanks to some South American “mad men,” they’re getting some inspiration and encouragement, too.
A.C. Camargo Cancer Center in São Paolo reached out to its advertising agency, JWT Brazil, seeking a way to make chemotherapy less traumatizing for its pediatric patients. The agency then teamed up with another of its clients, Warner Bros.—the parent company of DC Comics—and produced a series of shells for intravenous bags inspired by superheroes. The shells feature the logos of Batman, the Green Lantern, Superman and Wonder Woman.
The hospital then dubbed the decorated IVs as “Superformula,” a nod to the special potions that have given many heroes their powers. The agency also developed comic books in Portuguese and animated cartoons in which the heroes struggle with experiences that mirror the cancer patients. The heroes eventually recover their strength thanks to the Superformula, which serves to help encourage young patients to believe in the treatment.
The crossover didn’t stop there. The hospital also decorated its doors and corridors with the superhero theme, transforming its game room into the Hall of Justice, the home of superheroes in comics’ Justice League.
Hospital officials said the project helps children understand the treatments and gives them strength. That’s enough to make the most stubborn fanboy melt. “Patients are the real superheroes, and their power is to believe in healing,” said Cecilia Lima da Costa, A.C. Camargo’s director of pediatric oncology.
When Flipper is your birthing coach ...
With summer nearing, Outliers could really use a vacation. In Hawaii, say. Ah …. Waikiki beach, luaus, hula dancing, pina coladas, surfing. And dolphins!
But while swimming with Flipper is a pastime for many a tropical vacationer, some women are engaging with the supersmart water mammals a bit differently: for “dolphin-attended” births. According to Star Newland and Michael Hyson of the Sirius Institute in Puna, Hawaii, “some three decades of research and the experience of thousands of births has shown underwater birth is better for the mother and the baby.” The pair says it all has to do with buoyancy. “Underwater births in the Black Sea have been done for some 30 years and have shown that the children born in the water with the dolphins develop six months faster over their first six months.”
The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer recently dedicated a story on one couple flying thousands of miles to deliver with the help of dolphins. “It is about reconnecting as humans with the dolphins so we can coexist in this world together and learn from one another,” Heather Barringer told the newspaper. “It’s total relaxation for the mother,” husband Adam said. “Dolphins are very intelligent and healing, which in turn calms mother and baby for the whole process,” Heather added.
If interacting with Flipper is that relaxing during childbirth, Outliers can only imagine what it might do for everyday stress. Now why wasn’t dolphin-assisted relaxing included as an essential health benefit for all health plans next year?
Smelling the potential to fight malaria
Outliers was intrigued to learn that the answer to battling malaria may have been right at our feet all along. Scientists say the stench of human feet could be a potent new tool to fight the deadly mosquito-borne disease that is estimated to kill more than 600,000 people a year. “Smelly feet have a use after all,” Dr. James Logan, who headed the research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the Associated Press. “Every time we identify a new part of how the malaria mosquito interacts with us, we’re one step closer to controlling it better.”
In a laboratory study, researchers found that mosquitoes infected with the tropical disease were more attracted to human odors from a dirty sock than those that didn’t carry malaria. Insects carrying malaria parasites were three times more likely to be drawn to the stinky stockings.
The finding may help create traps that target only malaria-carrying mosquitoes, researchers say. The sock findings were published recently in the journal PLoS One.
Logan said the next step is to identify the chemicals in human foot odor so that it can be made synthetically for mosquito traps. But given mosquitoes’ highly developed sense of smell, getting that formula right will be challenging. Some smelly cheeses have the same odor as feet, Logan noted. “But mosquitoes aren’t attracted to cheese because they’ve evolved to know the difference,” he said. “You have to get the mixture, ratios and concentrations of those chemicals exactly right otherwise the mosquito won’t think it’s a human.”
The decorated IV bag shells are one way that A.C. Camargo Cancer Center helps young patients cope.
Watch out, malaria mosquitoes. You may have met your match.