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CU Cancer Center Technology Is A 'Game Changer' For Kids Undergoing Radiation

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) -  Learning you have cancer is shocking and going through treatment is scary. At UCHealth, a team developed technology that allows patients to watch a favorite movie or show during radiation treatments.

They call it Radflix. It is especially helpful in keeping children from needing anesthesia. Piper Lardes is a mini Wonder Woman, a tiny superhero at the CU Cancer Center.

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(credit: CBS)

She has been fighting cancer since last fall. The 5 year old started waking up in pain, then couldn't use her right arm.

The diagnosis was Ewing's Sarcoma.

"It's a solid mass tumor that's pressing against her spinal cord in her neck," explained Doug Lardes, her father.

Parents Doug and Bailey explained Piper has been cared for by Children's Hospital Colorado.

She has endured 14 weeks of five different chemotherapies. Her 31 radiation treatments have been at the CU Cancer Center.

"She's the strongest person I know," said Bailey Lardes, Piper's mother.

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(credit: CBS)

During radiation treatments, Piper wore a Wonder Woman mask made specially for her.

And she didn't worry about being alone and confined because she could watch a favorite movie "Inside Out."

"It kept me company," Piper said.

Watching the movie was possible because of Radflix, a video distraction system.

"We had to create a device that can be compatible with radiation," explained Dr. Douglas Holt.

So Holt and physicist, Brian Miller PhD, developed a long-throw projector system the keeps the image the size of an iPad. It is wireless and doesn't interfere with the treatment.

"It has really been a game changer for these kids," said Holt.

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(credit: Lardes family)

For Piper in particular...

"It gave her choice, it gave her control," said her father. "By the second or third time she was excited to go," said her mother.

"This is a perfect example of the great synergy between the pediatric oncology and radiation oncology programs at Children's Colorado and UCHealth. Patients and families benefit greatly from the shared and collaborative expertise, and together, we can really make a positive difference for the people most affected by challenging diseases - the kids themselves," said Lia Gore, Chief, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplant, Children's Hospital Colorado.

"The use of Radflix technology was such a benefit to Piper. It is not unusual for 5-year-olds to need sedation for their radiation therapy sessions. This technology allowed her the opportunity to spend less time in a hospital setting and more time living as a typical 5 year old!" said Brian Greffe, Medical Director H.O.P.E. Clinic, Children's Hospital Colorado.

Right now, Radflix is only at UCHealth.

The hope is other hospitals will adopt the system to help other superheroes fighting cancer.

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