After your child is diagnosed with a blood cancer, you will work with members of the healthcare team to determine the best treatment plan. Treatment options vary depending on the patient's diagnosis, age, overall health, and other factors. Your child’s treatment plan might include
- Chemotherapy or other drug therapies
- Radiation therapy
- Stem cell transplant
- Blood transfusion
- Palliative (supportive) care
- Clinical trials
- A combination of any of the above.
See the Disease Information pages to learn more about the different types of blood cancer.
See the Treatment pages to learn more about the different types of treatment.
Read the PDFs, Understanding Blood Cancer and Treatment Options, for more information.
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Treatment of children with leukemia and lymphoma usually takes place in either a hospital setting or a clinic. Your child may be admitted to the hospital as soon as the diagnosis is known or suspected. This may be the first time your child has had to stay in a hospital or even stayed away from home for an extended period of time.
Rules vary by facility, but keep the following considerations in mind when your child’s treatment includes a hospital stay:
- Ask members of the healthcare team if you and your child can tour the unit before the stay.
- Talk to your child. Emphasize that the stay is temporary and explain why it is necessary.
- Children may be afraid of being left at the hospital. If you need to leave your child’s room, let your child know you are leaving and when you will be back.
- Remember to take care of your needs too. Take breaks during the day. Go for a walk. Do not forget to eat.
- Keep in mind the needs of your other children. It is hard to be there for everyone; however, the other children in your family need support as well. Ask family members and friends to help.
- Many hospitals have a family lounge that you can visit so that you can get out of the room and socialize for a while.
- All children need time to play, even when hospitalized. Many children’s hospitals have a playroom or recreation room with toys, books and activities. Your child may be able to play with other children who are also receiving treatment.
- Ask if there are free or discounted food options for parents. You and your child may get tired of hospital food. Check to see if there is a cooking facility for families where you can refrigerate and prepare food.
- During the hospital stay, even though nurses are available, your child may want your help with activities such as going to the bathroom or bathing. Allow your child to choose who will help him or her. Some children may feel more comfortable with a parent. Other children and teenagers may prefer nurses.
- Learn the rules for visitors and quiet hours. Visitors who are sick should not visit your child.
What to Bring to the Hospital
The hospital will supply necessities such as meals, gowns and toiletries, but you and your child may feel more comfortable bringing some of the following items from home:
- Bathrobe, pajamas, socks and slippers
- If your child has an intravenous (IV) line or a port in place, choose clothing that allows members of the healthcare team easy access.
- A favorite toy, blanket or pillow case
- A book, coloring or activity book, tablet or other items for entertainment
- A charger for a cell phone, tablet or some other electronic device
- Pictures of family members, friends or pets
- Cards, posters or other special items from friends, classmates or teammates
- Preferred toiletries
- Favorite snacks that may not be available at the hospital cafeteria (following dietary restrictions)
- Reusable water bottle
Read the PDF, The Healthcare Team and Treatment Center, for more information.
Side effects of treatment are often a top concern for parents. Side effects also vary depending on
- The treatment and/or types of drugs used
- Drug and/or radiation dose amounts
- The part of the body receiving radiation (if radiation therapy is used)
- The duration of treatment
- Whether the patient has other health conditions
Side effects from cancer treatment can be either short term or long term. Some side effects improve or disappear when treatment ends, while others may show up after treatment ends, sometimes even years later.
It is best to address side effects right away, and there are medications and palliative care (supportive care) options available to help manage side effects. You can also manage some side effects by making changes to your child's food choices and daily activities. Talk to the members of the healthcare team before making any changes.
See the Managing Side Effects page to learn more about side effects.
Read the PDF, Side Effects and Supportive Care, for more information.
- Download of order The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s free booklets
- Coping with Childhood Leukemia and Lymphoma
- Understanding Side Effects of Drug Therapy
- Pictures of My Journey (coloring and activity book)
- Disease Information
- Clinical Trials
- Side Effects