Avoid saying “This won’t hurt” if the procedure is likely to be painful. Instead, be honest if a procedure may cause some discomfort, pain, pressure, or stinging, but then reassure your child that it will be temporary and that you’ll be there to offer support while or after it’s done.
Sometimes, it’s tough for kids to communicate what they are feeling. Communication doesn’t always have to be verbal. Music, drawing, or writing can often help kids living with life-threatening disease express their emotions and escape through a fantasy world of their own design.
Remind your child that he or she is not responsible for the illness.
If a child asks “why me?” it’s okay to offer an honest “I don’t kow.” Explain that even though no one knows why the illness occurred, the doctors do have treatments for it (if that’s the case).
Communicating With Others
Siblings – Pay attention to siblings’ needs and emotions. Encourage them to talk about their feelings – the good, the bad, and the guilt-inducing – and try to read between the lines of their actions.
Say yes to help – Accepting help with transportation, meals, childcare, and other daily activities can take some pressure off of you so that you have the emotional reserves to be there for your family.
Diet & Nutrition
Sometimes your child may be too sick to eat or drink much. Try to get foods they do ask for. If you can’t get that requested food within the hour, don’t spend your time trying. Usually, your child will no longer want it after an hour and it soon will be time for the next meal or snack.
When food is refused, try nutritional supplements in the form of beverages that come in a variety of flavors. These provide a lot of nutrients in a small amount. These are available over the counter in grocery and drug stores.
Back to School
Good communication is the key!
Keep the lines of communication open with your child, any caregivers of your child and teachers.
Be sure to speak with your child about going back to school and being ready for questions classmates may have about the cancer. The typical questions are “What is cancer?”, “Are you going to die?”, “Can I catch it?”, “Can you still play?”. Talk with your child about his or her answers to these questions.
Before returning to school, schedule a time to meet with your child’s teacher, principal, school nurse and counselor so everyone will know what to expect. You will also want to write down for the school’s records:
Any medication your child will need to take and how to administer it
Special devices the child will use and how to use them.
Any special problems or signs to watch out for
Emergency management of any possible problems
Medicines or treatments that your child cannot have
Emergency contact information
Chicken Pox Alert – Many illnesses are common in schools, including chicken pox. You will need to know right away if someone in your child’s school comes down with chicken pox. Your child may need special treatment for chicken pox exposure.
Dry mouth or weight loss caused by chemo treatments may mean the child will need to carry a water bottle to school or to be excused for extra snacks during the day. Do not hesitate to speak to your child’s school about any possible concerns.
A child who has cancer may have short-term weight loss or gain, hair loss, skin color changes, and pain. This may affect how his peers see him or her. A child that feels alone and different is more likely to have problems at school. Some of this can be avoided or minimized if the child is prepared and has support from school staff.
If you have concerns with your child in school, speak to the teacher about an IEP or a 504 plan. An Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan is a plan developed by both parents and teachers to meet the individual needs of a student. If your child meets all of the stringent legal requirements to qualify as a special education student, the plan is called an IEP; if not, it’s a 504 Plan.
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