Caring for a child with cancer, like caring for any child, requires patience, love, and understanding. Part of understanding is knowing as much as you can about the child's medical situation. If you are caring for a child with cancer for the first time, familiarize yourself with some of the aspects of this disease through web sites and other information offered here. Remember that childhood cancer is very different from adult cancer, so learning about the type of cancer the child has been diagnosed with is critical.
As a caregiver you may find yourself asked to assist in pain management. Not all children experience pain from their cancer, but they may have discomfort from procedures and treatment. The Cancer Pain Management in Children web site
provides a comprehensive look at the issues of pain and children with cancer. It is geared toward medical professionals, and also provides extensive assistance with terminology to help others understand the information. It discusses in detail the medicines used to control pain, how pain management in children differs from adults, and offers a variety of non-drug pain management techniques.
You also may want to view the pain relief tips in the Pain Management section of the Information for Parents
Find out if the patient's treatment center participates in any professional entertainment programs geared toward kids with serious illnesses. Organizations such as the Starlight Foundation
have been shown to help children cope with pain and fear through fun and distraction. If your patient's hospital does not participate, contact the group yourself and find out how visits are arranged.
The role of caregiver often extends beyond the patient to the rest of the family. Sometimes offering to take a sibling to the park, washing dishes, or running an errand will be the best care you can give the patient. You will be freeing time for the parents to spend with the patient and relieving some stress around the home. Stay alert to opportunities to offer this kind of help. The parents may not think to ask for it, but will certainly appreciate it if offered.