Macinley Butson is just an ordinary girl from Australia. But at just 16 years old, she found a way to protect women going through cancer therapy.
How harmful is radiation?
Radiation causes a lot of side effects. Women suffering from breast cancer know better than anyone else – it’s not just about hair loss. For instance, many patients reported other unexpected side effects, like memory problems, troubles with concentration, and nausea among many others. Paulette Sherman said, “I was shocked when my toenails fell off.”
So, Macinley had a breakthrough. And she had her reasons – the girl had recently lost a family member due to breast cancer.
“My father works in the field and has described what cancer patients had to go through. I decided it wasn’t fair they would be subject to side effect radiation, which can cause skin burning, as well as the chance of another cancer forming, so I decided to dedicate my time to finding a solution since there wasn’t one already.”
How did a 16-year-old without multi-million-dollar financing come to make something like this?
Aside from academic papers and scientific journals, the girl used YouTube. She said that it helped her to “gain an understanding of what they [women with cancer] are going through and how that feels”, because with her background, understanding the scientific jargon in scientific journals was too difficult.
What really inspired her was a history lesson at school. The armor that the soldiers used in the Middle Ages was “the thing”. That’s how the teenager came up with an idea of combining dense copper (known for its much better isolative qualities, and therefore, protecting your skin from deadly radioactive waves) into a wearable shield.
Later, after being researched and tested, the invention was called SMART Armor, which stands for ‘Scale Mail for Radiation Therapy’. This device has the potential to decrease the side effects of radiation, as it can shield the contralateral breast (the breast not undergoing treatment) by up to 75%!
Even though the device has been extensively surveyed and approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the Australian teen is now searching for a hospital that will run a pilot study on it and use the SMART Armor with real-world patients.