SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. – Being a chronically ill child right now when our hospitals are in overdrive due to COVID-19 is possibly scarier than it has ever been before.
Hannah Doty is a childhood cancer survivor trying to fight that fear with fashion.
Doty was diagnosed with cancer when she was 8 years old. After spending a year in and out of the hospital getting treatment she never dreamed she’d one day be working there.
“I never wanted to go back to the hospital ever again when I was a kid so it’s definitely been a journey,” said Doty.
Doty is putting her life experience to use. She wants to be a child life specialist. These are people who work with young patients and families to help them cope with hospitalization.
Doty is in graduate school and before the pandemic hit she was volunteering in the pediatric units of two hospitals.
“I’m grateful that I’m in school because it gives me something to do so I can focus on. When I can focus, I can focus on my schoolwork,” said Doty.
Doty recently submitted a design for a hospital gown to a national contest. She is one of three finalists chosen by the Starlight Children’s Foundation. If she wins, kids she spends time with could wear her idea.
The man behind the competition, Adam Garone, says this is not an easy time for kids.
“Children in hospital were more isolated than ever before. They could at best have one person come and see them. They couldn’t go into the communal areas of the hospital and in some cases the pediatric units were being repurposed to look after adults and all the doctors were wearing hazmat gear so the level of stress, the fear, and anxiety was heightened for these kids,” said Garone.
Doty chose a Hawaiian motif that almost makes the hospital gown disappear, giving kids a small vacation from being a patient. Some of the inspiration comes from the Make-A-Wish trip Doty and her family took to Hawaii after she was diagnosed.
“I do know from firsthand experience how the impacts that a small gesture like getting a colorful hospital gown can make while you’re in the hospital,” said Doty.
The winner will be announced Wednesday, May 27.