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A gift for oncology patients


New Zealanders have the fourth highest cancer rate in the world, with more than 21,000 new cancer diagnoses being made each year. Cancer's impact on people's lives is more than just physical.


Cancer patients often experience anxiety, fear, denial, depression, loneliness, uncertainty, anger, and sadness—emotions that can sometimes impact on their recovery. Emotional wellbeing of patients can be further exacerbated by periods spent waiting in a cancer clinic for appointments or treatment, where they encounter other sick people in various stages of illness and contemplate their own mortality.

The ‘yours' mug was designed as a gift for each new patient on arrival to the Oncology department at Auckland City Hospital as part of a six week undergraduate project investigating the nature of ‘waiting.’ The undergraduate product design project was grounded in observations at the clinic around the check-in process and the amenities available as ‘comforts’ for patients, such as tea or coffee in disposable polystyrene cups.  

The mug is made from earthenware clay, mixed with sand collected from local beaches. Due to being hand made, no two mugs look or feel exactly the same. They are unique, just like each oncology patient who receives one. The packaging is designed to open like a book, unfolding the story of how each mug is made and acting as a positive distraction for people experiencing a lonely and uncertain journey through the oncology clinic.

The gift giving experience facilitated by the product is aimed at communicating the dignity and quality of care that the hospital promises to provide. The project was well received from the oncology department management who are exploring opportunities for low-volume trial.