Posted: 05/20/2013 by Richard Tate

Last month, in a waiting room at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., a small boy sat with a laptop, engrossed in a game. His hair had fallen out, a side effect of his ongoing battle with cancer, and he wore a surgical mask to help protect his compromised immune system. The boy had a determined light in his eyes as he blasted a growing tower of cancer cells with chemotherapy bombs on the screen in front of him. 

The game he played is Re-Mission 2: Nanobot’s Revenge, one of a new collection of free online games for young cancer patients. Each of the games in Re-Mission 2 puts players inside the body to fight cancer with weapons like chemotherapy and antibiotics. From a corner of the waiting room, the boy’s grandmother looked on, smiling at her grandson’s apparent delight. As I chatted with her, I explained that the game, created by HopeLab, where I work, was made to be more than just fun. It was made to help her grandson fight his disease.