health

Meet the 18-year-old whose invention could change the face of breast cancer treatment.

I am Macinley Butson and I am currently 18 years old from Wollongong, NSW.

I am an inventor and scientist who follows my passion in STEM (which is an approach to learning that integrates the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and I love performing research projects with an aim to always help others or improve the world around us.

My passion for STEM has been a part of my core for as long as I can remember. I was always a curious child who would persistently annoy my parents with the most powerful question a child can ask. Why?

I had a natural passion and interest for the world which surrounded me and was eager to learn all of its secrets, in every nook and cranny, and how it was sustained smoothly.

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This natural curiosity grew as I did, turning into science projects and an aim to help the shared community of this beautiful planet that we all call home.

I have always been motivated to make a difference, and I believe everyone also has this calling in their life if nothing else. Whether this be done through art, teaching or, like myself, science, everyone can make a difference and contribution. This is what has been my motivation and is why I continue to do research and inventing.

My passion also lead to my most well-known invention. It’s called SMART Armour, which stands for Scale Maille Armour for Radiation Therapy.

It is a shield which can be used by breast cancer patients to protect their non-treated breast whilst undergoing radiotherapy treatment. One major side effect of treatment is known as ‘electron contamination’ which often contributes to skin burning and also increases the risk of developing another secondary cancer later in life.

The SMART Armour is able to reduce the dose to the non-treated breast by up to 80 per cent (or to levels which are recommended as safe), in turn improving patient’s outcome and potentially save lives.

The idea began as a conversation over the dinner table as my father works in the field. He outlined the problems and I didn’t believe it was fair that something hadn’t already been done so, I decided to take action.

My thought was “if not me then who, and if not now then when?” I created SMART Armour to help save and improve people’s lives and it is my hope that soon it will be able to do just that.

breast cancer treatment SMART armour
The shield protects breast cancer patients from ‘electron contamination’ during radiotherapy treatment. Image: Supplied.
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I have always been a little different in that my hobby was science, whilst others would be enjoying playing sports I would be off researching. But it is not that others cannot perform science research whilst they are young, it is simply that I pursued it further.

As children, we were all naturally curious about the world which surrounds us in some form, which forms the basis for science and research. It is something which is a part of all of us, I think that we simply need to continue to foster this quality throughout childhood, into teenage years and even adulthood. We should never stop learning - and this is something which is true for everyone.

I am excited to be continuing my own learning into university this year, 2019. I am going to be starting a double degree a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts. Keeping my degree broad means, I will be able to continue my passion in STEM, but also explore the interest I have in arts.

It is a misconception that Science is a purely logical subject as innovation must involve both creativity and thinking outside of the box. I will also be researching and inventing with any time that I have spare, hoping to get the SMART Armour into hospitals as soon as possible.

I am an inventor, I am a teenager, and I am a woman. I am curious, creative, passionate and don’t take no for an answer.

Macinley Butson is a spokesperson for Sportsgirl’s Be That Girl campaign - an honest and uncensored look into the female experience and what it means to be a girl in the year 2019 and beyond.

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