Dealing with cancer is difficult for anyone. However, a child with cancer has unique challenges. Moreover, those challenges extend to the parents and other adults in that child’s life. Here are some tips for caring for a child with cancer:
A Sick Child is Still a Child
Remember that this child with cancer is still a child. Children have fears that adults do not have. Dealing with cancer is a scary proposition for anyone at any age. However, for children, it can be a painful, bewildering experience. Work with the doctors and staff to find the best way to help your child feel safe. Moreover, try to have fun and live life.
Make Sure Your Discussions Are Age-Appropriate
Age plays a big part in how a child understands the cancer. A child two years old or younger will not understand what is happening. They fear the pain of the procedures. They have separation issues from their parents and primary caregivers. The environment of the hospital can be quite difficult to handle at this age. Older children may wonder what they did to cause the cancer.
Honesty is Key
Most experts agree that you need to be honest with your child if they are three or older. Many parents want to protect their children from the word cancer. However, the child is going through a great deal. Without a reason, the child can begin to internalize it and think they have done something wrong. A simple explanation, appropriate for age, can help them cope with what is going on.
Get Professional Advice
Ask the doctor or hospital for any materials they have to help the child adjust for certain medical procedures. Most pediatric oncology departments know how to deal with children going through this. It is important for parents to work with the oncology staff and social workers to help their children cope. Many have specific activity materials like coloring books and toys that help explain to the child what is going on.
Make Sure There’s A Safe Haven
For hospital stays, try to have the treatments done anywhere but the child’s bed. It needs to be a safe haven in the midst of chaos. That is where the child can rest comfortably without anyone sticking needles into them or poking them.
Try to Erase Some of the Fear
Playing out a procedure can make a procedure less scary for younger children. Most pediatric oncology staff members will have the ability to explain what is going to happen using special dolls. Going through the procedure with a doll first will make the actual procedure on the child a bit easier to understand.
Don’t Neglect Your Other Children
Pay attention to the other children in the family. In order to make life as easy as possible for the child with cancer, you need to spend time and make life as normal as possible for everyone. When the afflicted child has siblings, many times the siblings can feel left out and resentful. That is something the sick child will know. Making sure all the children have the attention needed will make life easier for the sick one.
Seek Out Support
Many local camps offer a respite for families dealing with a child with cancer. Taking a few days to attend camp is a great break for everyone. These camps have staff on hand to handle your child’s medical condition.
Keep Life As Normal As Possible
Normal life needs to go on. One of the biggest things that many families do not understand is that life needs to happen. A child needs to feel some semblance of normality. Doing school work or paying a visit to their teacher can help things seem normal.
Friends Are Important
Friends are important at all ages. Your child’s friends can make a real difference in keeping spirits up. Moreover, the adults need to keep in touch with their friends to keep their spirits up as well.