When Children Have Cancer Caring, Coping and Survivingcrayon
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Will my child die or is the cancer curable?
Chances are you know an adult who had cancer, and maybe you know someone who died from it. Childhood cancer can be very different from adult cancer, however, and the survival rates are much greater. In the past 30 years, survival rates for childhood cancer have increased from 30 to 80 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute. While there is no "cure" for cancer yet, treatments used today help the majority of children overcome the signs, symptoms and troubles cancer has caused.

My child just had a checkup and now you tell me he or she has cancer - Why? Could the cancer have been diagnosed earlier?
Childhood cancers rarely have early symptoms. They tend to appear suddenly, and the symptoms are similar to a host of common childhood illnesses.

What caused my child to get cancer? Is it something I did or did not do?
While doctors do not know what causes cancer in children, rest assured that nothing you or anyone did caused your child to get cancer.

Is cancer contagious?
Cancer is not contagious. It develops on its own within the body, and does not spread to other people in any way.

Are my other children at risk for cancer?
Your other children are no more at risk for cancer than any other children, regardless of whether they have a sibling with cancer.

Can I get cancer?
Everyone can get cancer. In fact, some people believe that we all have cancer cells in our body, and that it's our immune system that gets rid of them. As we age, our bodies -- and our immune systems -- don't work so well, and so that's why cancer is more common in older people. The way we can help ourselves keep our immune systems strong is through healthy eating, exercise, good sleep, and stress reduction.

Medical Information
Childhood cancer isn't one disease, but many. Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer, but many others such as brain tumors, lymphomas, and bone tumors are also found in children. To learn about your child's condition, a good place to begin a search is with one of the comprehensive general cancer groups such as The National Cancer Institute (NCI). This federal agency provides a wide range... more details

Pain Management
Not all cancer patients feel pain, but in some patients it can be significant. Most hospitals and treatment centers have staff whose job it is to help ease children's pain and discomfort. These people are usually called child life specialists. Ask your child's doctor or nurse if they are available to assist for more difficult procedures. It also helps to be ready with a variety of distractions... more details

Financial Support
Cancer treatment can be very costly. To help ease the financial burden, many agencies offer assistance. The social workers in the hospital where your child is treated are excellent resources for locating agencies that can help pay for some of the costs, and guide you to federal programs such Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Food Stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). To f... more details

Emotional Support
As much if not more than monetary assistance, parents of children with cancer need help in dealing with the emotional impact of living day to day with this disease. Between counselors at hospitals, support groups, and on-line communities, parents can easily connect with others to share concerns and find support. Just as with seeking financial help, some parents may be reluctant to seek mental he... more details

Learn About Cancer
You may have a lot of questions, and maybe you are confused about the tests and other procedures going on at the hospital. Don't ever be afraid to ask questions! Ask your doctor, ask the nurse, and ask your parents. Not everyone will have answers, but they can help you feel better. Here's an example. Sometimes a child with cancer will worry that something she did caused her to get the cancer.... more details

Talk About Cancer
It's also really important to just talk to someone about what you're going through once you find out you have cancer. Ask your nurse if the hospital has a child life specialist. These are really helpful people whose job it is to make you feel more comfortable and less scared when you're getting treatment. They can also tell you about special programs for kids with cancer that your hospital offer... more details

Meet Other Kids with Cancer
The staff in your treatment center can tell you about when and where you can find other kids going through the same things you are. There may even be special groups and programs for all of you to get together, talk, or just have fun. This is a great way to make friends and feel better about yourself. You can also connect with other kids through Internet web sites and discussion groups. As al... more details

Have a Blast!
One great way to meet other kids like you is to go to camp. You may be thinking, "Camp? Now?" It may sound crazy, but kids in all stages of cancer treatment can attend special camps designed to help you have fun and still get all the care you need. There you make new friends, do all kinds of activities from arts and crafts to sports, and never miss out on the care you need. For a list of camps ... more details

Spread Some Cheer!
For patients who require extended hospital stays, offer to help decorate their room. Get other friends to make drawings or other arts and crafts pieces to cheer up the patient. Make a tape of their favorite music, or make a tape recording of friends and family wishing them well in their own words. Send a letter every week during treatment and recovery wishing the patient well.... more details