Childhood Cancer: How to Cope When Your Child is Diagnosed

Childhood cancer

Each year, over 10,000 children are diagnosed with childhood cancer, and over 1,500 die from the disease, according to the National Cancer Society. While this may not seem like many compared to the adult cancer rates, it makes it the leading cause of death in children under age 15. Even one child with cancer is too many, as no one should have to go through the pain of seeing their child suffer at the hands of such a debilitating disease.  Coping when your little one is diagnosed with childhood cancer can be very difficult, and everyone deals with it in their own way. Some may sink into a deep depression, unable to handle the stress of daily life until they can come to terms with their child’s diagnosis. Others spring into action, researching every potential treatment and methods to help beat the cancer into remission. There is no “right” way to cope, the most important thing is to find a method that works for you and enables you to be there for your child.

Tips for Coping with a Childhood Cancer Diagnosis

  • Turn to your support system immediately. While locking yourself in your room and crying until your eyes run dry is okay in the beginning, your child needs you now more than ever. You also need your support system more now. Turn to friends, family members, your religious leaders if applicable, or anyone else that is willing to listen to you express your feelings.
  • Don’t bottle up your emotions. Putting on a brave face in front of your child is one thing, but completely bottling up your emotions and acting like you’re fine is just going to hurt you in the long run. When you’re alone with your family, spouse, and friends, let those emotions out.
  • Join a support group with others going through the same thing.  While being able to rely on friends and family to help you through this time is great, joining with others who truly understand what it is like to cope with a childhood cancer diagnosis can do you a world of good.
  • Take care of other needs. Don’t let the childhood cancer diagnosis become the only thing you ever focus on. Remember to tend to your other basic needs. The same goes for your child. Don’t let cancer be his or her defining characteristic. Make sure he has time to play, engage in favorite activities, and just be a kid as much as possible.
  • Educate yourself. Researching the type of childhood cancer that your child has and learning about the different treatment methods will empower you to make the best choices for your child. It will also enable you to be your child’s fiercest advocate. Fear of the unknown can make things worse, so educating yourself can help you feel more in control of the situation.

Remember, there is no exact method to dealing with a childhood cancer diagnosis. Do what feels right for you and your family. If you feel comfortable sharing your coping tips, we’d love to hear them in the comments section. You may be able to help someone else out going through a devastating time.

7 thoughts on “Childhood Cancer: How to Cope When Your Child is Diagnosed”

  1. This is just heartbreaking! You have some really great resources for people. I think it would be so hard to not focus on the cancer, but it’s so important to DO other things and make sure that life is still fun.

  2. I have never loss a child to childhood cancer (but have lost a child) but I do have a dear friend who has. I can not imagine what she has gone through nor do I try to imagine what she has gone through.

    I do know that she lives each day trying to get through because not only did her beautiful daughter lose her fight to cancer just over a year ago she gets to wake up every day with the constant reminder since her identical twin sister is now all alone.

    We all deal with grief differently and it is such a tricky thing to blog about.

  3. While I”m sure your intentions were good, this article offends me on several levels. First it feels like a slap in the face to those of us who have fought the good fight with our children and their cancer to have this written by someone who hasn’t. *Please, correct me if I’m wrong. If I”m correct, I’m miffed that you would try to tell us how to cope. This is such a slippery slope and one that no one can imagine unless and until they are there.

    Your fact is wrong, also. Cancer is not the leading cause of death in children 15 and under. Accidents are the leading cause of death. Cancer is the leading cause of death in that age group for deaths by disease; as a blanket statement accidents take more of our children than cancer. But the fact that cancer is the number one cause of death by disease remains hugely significant. I just think it hampers your credibility to not have it correct.

    How can you tell someone to not “let the childhood cancer diagnosis become the only thing you ever focus on”. Sometimes this IS what feels right (to borrow your phrase in the closing paragraph. I just hate when people ‘should’ parents in situations like this. There is no right or wrong answer or decision. You just make the best bad decision you are faced with. Sometimes you may certainly have to let it be the only thing you focus on, so that at the end of the day you are in alignment with yourself.

    Cancer was my daughter’s defining characteristic. For you to say that I should not have let that be so….shame on you. My daughter earned the right to define herself whatever way she chose. It just so happens that that is what she’d say first and most often. After more surgeries than I have digits, she led the way on how she focused on it. Her illness was not in a neat little box she could take off the shelf and put back up at will. She would also tell you she loved purple butterflies, her brother, and her mother.

    The absolutes in your piece here Nicole, and the misinformation begged me to write my/our truth.

    I wrote this for my daughter Olivia’s honor and memory. Even though she is gone I do not stop mothering her…and this is a way in which I remain her fiercest advocate.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *