02 Sep 5 Ways You Can Plan to Fight Childhood Cancer
As you may know, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month which means we’re going to actively be supporting, donating and spreading awareness to childhood cancer causes. Like with any cancer situation, the first step is to become the expert about the specific type of cancer you’re dealing with. Therefore it’s important to start off by knowing the key differences between childhood cancer and adult cancer. ’Childhood cancers are often the result of DNA changes in cells that take place very early in life, sometimes even before birth. Unlike many cancers in adults, childhood cancers are not linked to lifestyle or environmental risk factors’ (1). Amongst the most common of childhood cancers are Leukemia, lymphoma, brain and central nervous system tumors, and Sarcoma. The most painful of cancers include cancers of the brain and lymphoma. For those of you investigating pediatric cancer, please prepare the family for an inevitably rocky roller coaster ride. You’ll find on your journey a multitude of challenges and a million reasons to give up. But you must embrace the battle with a resilient spirit because you will be the light of hope for your child. If you really start to believe that there’s a way you ‘CanPlan’ to beat cancer, so will your little warrior.
1) Become the expert about your child’s cancer
Finding out your child has cancer can cause an array of emotions all at once. Guilt, shock, fear, disbelief, and anger may come, but don’t let it overwhelm and consume you. Your child needs you to remain strong and calm; remember the constant truth that knowledge is power. Start by asking your doctor some key questions like:
- Where is the cancer located?
- What stage is the cancer and what does this mean?
- How many kids are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year?
- Can you explain my child’s pathology report (laboratory test results) to me?
- What can I do to keep up my child’s immune system during this time?
- Are there any types of alternative treatments or things we can do at home to supplement the efforts?
- How will this treatment affect my child’s daily life? Will he or she be able to go to school and perform his or her usual activities?
- Could this treatment affect my child’s ability to become pregnant or have children? If so, should my family talk with a fertility specialist before cancer treatment begins?
- If I’m worried about managing the costs related to my child’s cancer care, who can help me with these concerns?
- What are the chances that the cancer will recur?
- What follow-up tests will my child need, and how often will he or she need them?
- What support services are available to my child? To my family?
- Whom should we call for questions or problems?
Once you get a good understanding of what type of cancer you’re dealing with, start doing your own research. Make sure you’re finding reliable sources if you’re doing online research and try to double check your work whenever you can. Ask your doctor as many questions about who you can talk to for more information, which website he recommends, who you can get a second opinion from, etc.
2) Weigh out all your family’s possible treatment options.
Don’t be scared to examine every aspect of your child’s cancer. Understanding every option your family has is a process that will help with coping with having cancer. This includes analyzing your family’s financial situation. No matter the costs, you should find doctors from a broad range of background, including getting advice from both a DO (Doctor of Osteopathy) and a MD (a typical doctor). And whether or not your child is battling a rare type of cancer, seeking a specialist will ensure the entirety of your child’s physical and emotional needs are well taken care of.
3) Stay organized and keep track of key information.
As you’ll discover through a wealth of resources and information, you’ll have many doctors with many different opinions. It is your duty to filter through the abundance of data and gauge what is pertinent to your child’s cancer. After learning all the facts, you will be readily equipped to make executive decisions. I can’t emphasize enough than to repeat, stay organized and up to date with the most current cancer research. Only then can informed choices be made. Utilize CanPlan’s user-friendly features such as the Research Notes’ and ‘Daily Tracking’ to gain control over the cancer. It allows you to perform effective and efficient evaluation of every essential detail.
4) Check out helpful resources from top children cancer centers.
- St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: Treatment Programs
- John Hopkins Children’s Center: Conditions to look out for in Childhood Cancer
- Dana-Farber Boston Children’s Cancer: Innovative Approaches
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: Conditions & Diseases
- Children’s Hospital Los Angeles: Programs & Services
- Article about boy who treated cancer naturally
5) What happens after treatment?
‘Cancer treatments such as chemo and radiation therapy can cause long-term side effects, so children who have had cancer need careful follow-up for the rest of their lives’ (1). After your family has made it through treatment, you’ll finally feel like you can breathe with ease. Try not to worry about the future, but stay present in clarity. Your child will need additional emotional support during the aftermath of treatment phase. And while the body is recovering from therapies and surgeries, your child’s psychological needs should also be closely tended to. Remember to keep the routine checkups as they are critical to healing.
Childhood cancer research is poorly funded at both the private and government levels. Most families pay a large portion out of pocket or through donations received from friends and relatives. I strongly encourage you to contribute what you can, if you can. You never know the impact you could have on someone’s sickness. But you won’t regret making even a small difference in a life. If you’re ready, here’s a great opportunity for you to do so. Hannah is an 18 year old recent high school graduate who spends her free time making love gifts and donating care packages to children with cancer. Click here to check out her Go Fund Me. Wow! What an amazing story of genuine devotion to a good cause. Hannah, you inspire us all to give from our hearts with pure dedication and love. Here’s to you!