Medicine Interactions

A systemic mapping of the experience of side-effects during cancer treatment

When someone is diagnosed with cancer it affects most of their life as well as the lives of the people who are close to them. The treatment will in most cases consist of not just only the treatment for the disease, but also medication to ease the discomforts the disease brings and the side-effects of the treatment itself. These medications may also in turn give side-effects or have unpleasant interactions between themselves. Not only does this add additional discomfort to the patient as well as a feeling of not being in control of the situation, trying to get an understanding of the entire medication regime is difficult both for the patient and the caregiver.


This project had a background in my own experience with the challenges with medication and side-effects during the cancer treatment my mother went through, and I wanted to try to get an overview of the complexity as a foundation for a the development of a tool to aid in this type of situation. I based it on the medication my mother went through for stage 3 non small cell lung cancer and the medications she was prescribed.

The result

The output of the project was a giant mapping focusing on two areas. The first one was an overview of all of the medicines, their possible side-effects and how these might affect the body. This part of the mapping proved that this is a very complex landscape to try to understand, especially for someone in the difficult process of going through cancer treatment. And that making a tool that would make this more comprehensible would aid the patient in getting a sense of control of her own situation. The second part of the mapping focused on how one might visualise the effect of the medication, when to expect it to come into effect and how long the effect would last to be able to anticipate side-effects as well as having the possibility to plan out the medication regime in a better way.

The way forward

This project has been the foundation of a collaboration between myself and my sister Dr. Mari Herigstad to work towards developing a tool for cancer patients and their caregivers to use during cancer treatments to better understand the medicines and their effects and thus being more in control of their situation.


The project was done at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design in collaboration with Helsedirektoratet


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