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Penn Medicine Helping Cancer Patients Connect With Survivors Through Cutouts In Waiting Room

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) -- There is a new way to help cancer patients go through treatments during the pandemic. Those cutouts of people used for sporting events, are now appearing in waiting rooms at Penn Medicine.

"I was esophageal cancer and Heather was triple-negative breast cancer," said Rich Badt of Bala Cynwyd.

Rich and Heather Badt were diagnosed with cancer days apart. It was a tough talk with their young sons.

"That mom and dad both have cancer, it was hard extremely hard," said Rich.

That was five years ago and now, even though they're done with treatments, the Bala Cynwyd couple is making a return appearance at Penn Medicine in the form of cutouts.

"To know you're not going through this alone," Heather said.

Because of COVID safety precautions, most patients are alone during appointments. But now in the waiting room at Penn's Proton Therapy Center, there are cutouts of other former patients.

"This is an opportunity to make someone feel like there's someone else that has been there and is literally with them, even though it's a cutout out. And the vision is, that then they can reach out and connect with someone they can relate to," Heather said.

They've already had some calls and have been able to share all the difficulties of going through cancer treatments, which is even more complicated because of COVID-19.

"People are feeling isolated, they're anxious, there are so many unknowns that happen through a journey and not being able to have someone with you, is very overwhelming," said Heather.

But the cutouts are making connections and giving current patients access to survivors.

"Knowing that we could have some small piece to help others and pay it forward as we were so fortunate, really means a lot to us," Heather said.

Her gratitude has her also working with the cancer support community to help others. 

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