Helping you cope with your child's cancer

The most frightening words you will ever hear from your doctor is that your child has cancer.  It is overwhelming and extremely emotional, and you may find it very hard to talk to your son or daughter about their diagnosis.  You will need some time to absorb what has happened and how you will handle in as a family.  You will need to sit down as a family and make sure that all of you understand exactly what your child having cancer will mean and how you can help them cope.  Here are some tips for helping both your child and your family cope with the diagnosis.

Keep Everything as Normal as Possible

Parents can sometimes have the tendency to favor and be more lenient with their children once they start treatment.  This is perfectly understandable, but you’re not doing your family any favors.  It will make it harder for them to return to normal later on and if you have other children they may see this as being unfair.  Even though your child has cancer, try and stick to as normal a routine as possible.  Kids need to stick to things like a regular bedtime, do the chores they can handle and homework still needs to be done.

Explaining Treatment

You will have to talk to your child about their cancer and what will happen next.  They need to understand the diagnosis and what the treatment options are going to be.  Your child can be terrified about going to see the doctor and how the treatment will feel.  They need to understand what the treatment will feel like and the potential side effects that may happen.  They need to understand that they may get sick and that if they have chemo their hair will fall out.  Children are not so different from adults, the more information they have the better they will feel.  Here is one child who understands his disease and their story.

Keep Your Child Comfortable

After treatment and your child has had a chance to recover a bit and feel better, you can spend some time together bonding.  You can curl up and read your child some stories, enjoy some time outside and get some fresh air.  Or you can play some of your favorite games together.  The point is to relax, let your child know they are safe and loved.

Sometimes children who have just had chemo treatments take a little longer to recover and your time together may have to be a bit different.  Enjoy a move together or just have some quiet time.  They may not have the energy to play their favorite games.

Cancer is a brutal disease and it seems especially cruel to see children suffer from the disease.  Having your child diagnosed is one of the most frightening things a parent can hear.  You and your family can and will cope and make it through.

The difference between cancer in adults and children?

The difference between cancer in adults and children?

Cancer happens when cells in the body start growing out of control, you can get cancer in almost any part or organ of your body.  That cancer can in turn start spreading to other areas of your body.  With more than 100 types of cancer, the causes can vary everything from environmental causes to genetic.  To learn more about the causes of cancers you find that information here.

The cancers that children develop are very different from the types of cancers that adults contract.  DNA is often responsible for the changes in cells that happen in early development, even perhaps before birth.  While cancer in adults is often linked to environmental or lifestyle risk factors, childhood cancers are not.

Treatments for Cancer

With few exceptions the treatments such as chemotherapy are more effective against childhood cancers than they are in adults.  Children will recover better and far more quickly from chemo treatments than adults do.  However, children are will have more side effects from radiation therapy if it becomes part of their therapy.  Both radiation and chemo have long term side effects and children who have had to have either treatment for their cancer will likely need to be monitored for the rest of their lives, both to make sure the cancer doesn’t return and for side effects.

The Doctors and Staff

Most of the cancer treatment centers and children’s hospitals in the US that treat children are members of the Children’s Oncology Group.  Most are also associated with university as well.  They offer patients specialists who understand that childhood cancers and adult cancers are vastly different.  They also understand that children have special needs outside of treatment, they need family and extra support.

The teams who treat children include pediatric oncologists, surgeons, radiation specialists, pediatric nurses, nurse practitioners and even physician assistants.  The more study that is done on childhood cancers the more imperative it becomes that children are treated by specialists who are up to date on all the latest research and they are experts in their fields.

Support Services

Most hospitals and cancer centers that deal with children also keep on staff non-medical professionals to help them cope with having cancer and the harshness of some of the treatments.   There are educators, social works, child life specialists and therapists on hand to help children cope with the psychological aspects of having cancer.  They are there to support the whole family as well.  Anytime there is a child diagnosed with cancer the whole family will feel the effects.