Hospitals can be intimidating for children – they are surrounded by unfamiliar people, smells and medical equipment. Children have little choice in the procedures they must endure, which can be distressing and confusing. Since 2000, the Clown Doctors have transformed the hospital environment and supported the health and wellbeing of more than 400,000 children, families and staff.
In her preteens, Tia Scott was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. What started as a pain in her hip quickly turned into a whirlwind of scans, blood tests and medical examinations leading to one diagnosis: Tia had cancer.
Doctors quickly realised that chemotherapy alone was not the solution and scheduled Tia for surgery. Tia’s surgery was one of the biggest of its kind performed at Perth Children’s Hospital. Months of gruelling chemotherapy, surgery and physiotherapy followed.
Now 15 years old, Tia has experienced far more than any parent would wish for their child. But the Clown Doctors have been there for Tia every step of the way.
Tia said: “Being in hospital is hard. Being in hospital for the length of time I had to is horrible. However, the Clown Doctors always made me laugh and smile. Laughter really is the best medicine. Even if you’re not in the mood to laugh, they are wonderful, caring people who are there to have a conversation. Clown Doctors have been with me every step of my hospital journey, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Far from just “entertainment”, the Telethon-funded Clown Doctors program uses the proven benefits of humour therapy, turning what can be a traumatic experience into something positive while also supporting staff to perform their treatments effectively.