Supertee: the medical gown helping small heroes fight big battles

Just after her first birthday tradie Jason Sotiris’ bright and bubbly daughter Angela was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

“When you get told that your child has cancer, it’s a very, very serious matter. Given the extent of her disease, they said what we’re looking at is a 20 per cent chance of survival,” Jason recalls.

Finding it difficult to change Angela’s hospital gown after chemotherapy due to her chest monitor cables and IV drips, Jason was led down an unusual path for him – fashion.

Along with mate Yusuf Muklis, he came up with idea to create a t-shirt designed to make changing easy and that all the kids would want to wear, the Supertee, a superhero costume with a twist!

Supertee is any attempt to try and make it easy for parents like me to change our kids when they’re in a hospital bed,” he says.

The special t-shirt is X-ray and MRI friendly with underarms that open easily for temperature checks and sides which come apart quickly with removable studs.

Best of all, says Jason, it builds courage.

“Put a costume on that child and now he and she is Superman going in for an X-ray or Batman, it’s just that difference we hope we’re able to give to the kids.”

Paediatric Oncologist and Neuro-Oncologist at Westmead Children’s Hospital Professor Stewart Kellie says it’s a simple concept that is a great hit with the kids.

“Firstly kids love a game and there’s not a whole lot of games and hilarity on a cancer ward, so the whole idea of doing things in character is a wonderful idea,” he says.

Jason says he and mate Yusuf had some special design help from the nurses at Westmead.

“We came with the prototype and because of their wealth of experience they were able to say, no change this and I would do this or do that if I was you.”

Jason says research shows pretend play, like being a superhero, helps a child put a psychological distance between themselves and the problem at hand.

“It’s known at The Batman Effect and allows children to step back from a problem and think about it from multiple angles, they can then see different options for a solution,” he says, adding it’s all about giving a special group of kids’ strength and comfort.

“And these kids, they’re tougher than you think, they fight battles that we can’t, they don’t have the option to give up, so why should we? They are an inspiration. They are the real superheroes.”

Learn more about Supertee here