Hearing that your child has cancer is terrifying. Today, however, most childhood blood cancer patients can expect to have full and productive lives. Thanks to new and improved therapies, survival rates for childhood blood cancer have improved significantly over the past several decades. In addition, doctors, nurses and researchers continue to search for the causes of childhood leukemia and lymphoma to develop even better treatments and tailor therapies to decrease toxic side effects. Social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and other health professionals are also working to understand how to help children and families manage cancer and its treatment and maintain a good quality of life.
What Does Caring for a Child with Blood Cancer Look Like?
As a parent or guardian, you already provide for your child in many ways, but caring for a child with cancer brings new challenges. You will be spending a lot of time with your child at medical appointments and working closely with the members of your child’s healthcare team to ensure your child is getting the best possible care.
Depending on the treatment plan, your child may need to stay at the hospital overnight (or even for weeks) to receive treatment. You may have to deal with an emergency situation, such as a medical crisis requiring a trip to the emergency room. After your child’s cancer treatment is completed, you will need to be vigilant about follow-up care and watch for long-term and late effects of treatment. You will also have to help your child when he or she returns to school.
In addition to caring for a child who has cancer, you may have other children, as well as other family members, who need your time and support too.
Equally important, you need to look after yourself during this difficult time.
Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed, but the following suggestions can help you to be at your best to help your child:
- Ask for help and accept help from your co-parent, friends and family. Talk to members of your child’s healthcare team about difficulties you encounter—there may be resources available to help you. Remember, you are not alone.
- Take care you yourself. You can better care for your child if you are healthy and well.
- Learn as much as you can about caring for a child with cancer. Ask the healthcare team where you can find trusted information. You can also contact an LLS Information Specialist who can provide you with the latest, most accurate, disease-related information: