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.