Lakeland Virtual Reality Program Honored by American Cancer Society
Aug 9, 2019 Share

(ST. JOSEPH) – Spectrum Health Lakeland team members, Barbara Schmidtman, PhD, director of oncology services, and Brendon Beede, information security project manager, were recently honored with the Innovation Award by the American Cancer Society at the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Night of the Stars event for their work with virtual reality (VR) in the clinical setting.

Beede and Schmidtman launched the VR program at the Marie Yeager Cancer Center in January 2019. Through an interactive computer-generated simulation, patients receiving chemotherapy and other infusion services are exposed to a variety of experiences while helping relieve some of the current stresses of their situation.

“On behalf of the American Cancer Society and Coach Mike Brey’s Coaches vs. Cancer program, we are thrilled to present the Innovation Award to Brendon and Barbara,” said Jessica McCrea, development manager, American Cancer Society. “Their work with VR has certainly had a positive impact on the oncology patient population at Spectrum Health Lakeland. We applaud their innovative efforts to help ease the burden of fighting cancer.”

“The first time I put on the VR headset I quickly realized how much of a benefit this would have for our patients,” said Schmidtman. “In addition to the success of the program we’ve seen at Lakeland, we are pleased to have developed a clinical study to assess patient anxiety levels in hopes that this technology will help patients in other communities as well.”

Coaches vs. Cancer program, in collaboration with the National Association of Basketball Coaches, has united coaches and fans nationwide to help the American Cancer Society defeat a common enemy–cancer. Through fundraising and education initiatives, the Coaches vs. Cancer program has supported the American Cancer Society in improving and saving lives from cancer in the US and worldwide.

“Night of the Stars is the most powerful event organized by our local Coaches vs. Cancer program,” said Notre Dame Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Brey. “The honorees are literally saving lives every day and each of them has an incredible story to share. This is a special night I look forward to each year.”

Coach Brey has been a long-time supporter of Coaches vs. Cancer raising more than $3.3 million to-date for the American Cancer Society’s mission to save lives, celebrate lives and lead the fight for a world without cancer.

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