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No one is ever prepared to hear that their child has a life-threatening illness. For most parents the first few weeks are a blur. Parents have a lot to manage after a child is diagnosed with cancer and the first few weeks can be overwhelming. Here are some tips, suggestions, and resources to help parents cope during those first few weeks after diagnosis.
If your child has been diagnosed with cancer, there are no right or wrong feelings. Some parents have trouble believing that this is happening. Others cry. Other parents focus on making treatment decisions. All of these reactions are normal. Some of the most common reactions to hearing a child has cancer are:
When a child has cancer, understanding the plan for treatment, the potential impact treatment might have on the child's day-to-day life and the family can help parents cope and begin to plan for the future. At the same time parents are trying to manage their stress and shock, they also are being given a lot of information about their child's cancer, treatment choices, and what will happen. Many parents will feel overwhelmed with information at first and wonder how to keep track of everything. Parents also have questions about how to tell their child and other family members what is happening.
For more information about helping your child cope with their diagnosis, please visit Helping Your Child Adjust to a Cancer Diagnosis. Helping Siblings of Children with Cancer has resources for the special needs of other children in your family. Here are some ideas to help parents keep track of treatment information and what they need to know about their child's care in the first few weeks:
In the first few weeks after a child's diagnosis, family schedules and routines get turned inside out. The first few weeks can feel like a movie of someone else's life. Part of what helps kids with cancer, their siblings, and other family members cope is finding ways to keep as many things the same as possible or creating new predictable routines around treatments schedules. It can take a little while to get through the initial shock and learning about your child's illness, but here are some things to think about and resources to help you keep or create routines while your child is getting treatment:
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
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Last Revised: October 19, 2017