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Jefferson Awards: Transforming The Chemo Room

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Nancy Ballard, Jefferson Awards

Nancy Ballard (CBS)

GREENBRAE (CBS 5) – It doesn’t take an artist’s eye to see beautiful changes are in the making at Marin Specialty Care in Greenbrae. But it took an artist to make it happen.

For the past year, Nancy Ballard has been transforming cancer treatment rooms one by one to bring beauty where it’s truly appreciated.

“It’s a very important time of your life when you sit on these chairs,” patient Corinne Fuller says thoughtfully.

Fuller spent a lot of time in a chemotherapy room. She contacted Ballard after reading an article about her work, and asked her if she could bring her magic to her doctor’s office.

“To have a quiet nice environment around you, it’s you know.. you’re thinking a lot when you have chemo on, sitting there, so (it’s) very important to me,” Fuller said.

So Ballard and her volunteer designers repainted the space from a cold hospital blue to warm earth tones. Stencils of leaves and birds bring the outdoors inside.

Last year, Ballard started “Rooms that Rock for Chemo,” a non-profit that recruits designers and volunteers to donate time and materials to create unique one-of-a-kind of medical environments. Ballard does all the coordination and fundraising.

Her first project was at Dr. Steve Hufford’s San Francisco office, where nurses described the chemo rooms as “depressing.” Ballard donated one of her own paintings, but recognized a much bigger need.

“You can really feel the difference in here,” Ballard remarked as she showed CBS 5 into a newly decorated room.

Now patients can choose to receive treatments in a room inspired by the designs of Venice with golden plastered walls, or the “Dragonfly Room” with its cottage furniture and low lights, or even the soothing “Water Room,” surrounded by hand-painted koi.

“Everything is improved so the whole experience is better for the patients,” Hufford explained.

That means everything to Ballard.

“They know there’s people out there that are thinking about them and care about them even if they don’t know them,” she said.

The designers donate all the paint, furniture, and accessories for every room. To help, visit Rooms That Rock For Chemo.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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