When a child is diagnosed with cancer, it can be a scary and uncertain time for the entire family. However unsure you may feel as a parent, it is important to remain positive and supportive of your child so that they can confidently face the challenges and adjustments of a cancer diagnosis. Below we highlight some ways you can help support a child diagnosed with cancer.
Closing the lines of communication with your child about their diagnosis can make them feel more isolated and confused. Instead, provide them with age-appropriate information and honestly explain their diagnosis. This will help your child learn more about themselves and allows them to explain their condition to trusted adults when necessary. When communicating with your child, be realistic about their health, but always lead with optimism and remain hopeful. Encourage them to ask questions if they have them, and speak openly with you, doctors, and hospital staff, if they need clarification during hospital stays or procedures.
Care and support are not just a one-time conversation. Consistency is critical when supporting your child with cancer, and it is crucial to frequently check in with your child to see how they are doing emotionally. Encourage them to express their feelings even if they are not always positive. If your child is in school, they may be letting friends know about their diagnosis, so reassure them that they can communicate with you or another trusted adult about questions, comments, or concerns.
Create A Support Team
Talk openly to other trusted adults in your child’s life. Your child’s support team may include teachers, school social workers, parents of close friends, and family members. A school liaison can help coordinate school and health needs should issues arise and if your child becomes sick. Having a plan for remote learning can help them keep up in school without risking further illness in the classroom. Communicating your child’s needs to close family members allows them to step in and care if you need a break.
It is easy for caregivers to get caught up in caring for someone else they neglect to care for themselves. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself, take time to focus on your mental health, and join a support group to speak with other parents who are in a similar situation. Hearing from other parents’ perspectives will help you feel less alone in your journey and provide insights on how to best care for yourself and your child.
Children are amazingly resilient and can adjust to monumental changes, but having the care and support of an adult can make these transitions much easier and less turbulent. For families facing childhood cancer, it is also essential to continue some of the activities that make your family feel a sense of normalcy. This can include taking time away! Our Respites provide families with an expense-paid week away from the stresses of caregiving, bills, or doctor visits. Visit aweekaway.org/receive to learn more about our Respites and start an application.