Cancer is an unexpected and certainly most unwelcome guest to any home. The children of the affected individual are perhaps the ones who are hit the hardest after a cancer diagnosis. Children who still rely on their sick parent may not be able to cope as well as adults. During cancer care, patients are monitored for their functional status and response to treatment, yet it is still a gray area how the disease impacts these individuals as parents. And we know that being a parent is incredibly important to their well-being and identity.
A parent’s illness brings insecurity into the life of a child. It affects their wellbeing and increases their needs for care and comfort. However, it’s important that you do not underestimate the ability of your child to understand difficult situations and deal with them in an appropriate manner. In some cases, this change could have a positive effect by bringing your family closer. Here are tips on parenting after a cancer diagnosis.
Making Peace With Your Illness
A recent study shows that parenting concerns have a significant impact on the emotional and Mental health of women in advanced cancer. More specifically, they found that a mother’s emotional wellbeing was linked considerably with whether she had communicated with her kids about her disease, and her worries about how this is going to affect her children financially.
In another paper, parents reported the situation as a state of emergency. Consuming their energy, emotionally and physically. In spite of the challenges, they still strive to be good parents. Handling day-to-day difficulties of living with pain and therapy is hard enough. When you add self-blame to the equation, your mental suffering can multiply several times over.
You can view being alive as a gift and find ways to live a rich and fulfilling life within your limitations. Cancer may drastically limit what you can do as a parent, but the first step to recovery is making peace with your circumstances.
Communicating With Your Children
Depending on how old they are, kids may have no idea what cancer is. It may be a good idea to being with some basic information about the disease. For instance, you can start by telling them that each case is different. Explain that a diagnosis is usually not a death sentence if they know that some people die from cancer. Medicine has come a long way in preventing and treating certain types of cancer.
In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration approved an impressive 45 novel drugs, including ones for treating mantle cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma. There are also new combinations of previously approved drugs and the entry of personalized immune-cell therapies that have offered thousands of patients who had run out of options for curing their cancers.
Cancer may be a terrifying concept to understand, and so children may need to be told that your disease is not contagious and that it’s not anyone’s fault. Older kids may deal with the situation better if you educate them on things like surgeries and therapies that have promising results.
Preparing Them For What’s To Come
Talk to your oncologist about your specific condition so that you can explain it to your kids more comprehensively. Factors like the stage of the cancer, the parts of the body affected, survival rates, and potential therapies may help the whole family come to an understanding of what you’re up against.
Explain to your children that you will experience physical and emotional changes during your treatment. Some of them may include loss of hair, tiredness, nausea, bloating, moodiness or sadness, forgetfulness, and other effects of surgery. They may have to expect rough times in which you are not able to be your best self in taking care of them, but that these moments are likely temporary. It may help to remind them that you still love them, even when you feel bad.
Maintaining Normalcy In The House
During this difficult period, you may be tempted to put off things like socializing and after-school activities. However, missing these events may only make your condition more intense to your children. They might notice that things have really changed. As a result, they might have fewer fun distractions and even have a smaller support network. If pain is hindering you from going out, ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask the people around you for help.
In addition, you may want to check on your kids more frequently than before to make sure that they are doing well in school – both socially and academically. Allowing them to slip in their studies once or twice can lead to a downward spiral of bad behavior and poor grades.
However, you have to understand that the news of their parent having cancer can make it hard for them to concentrate. You can visit their teachers to explain what’s happening, so they could provide the attention your kids need to regain focus and maintain good grades.
Coping Mechanisms To Help Get Through The Worst Times
Your children can still face some bad days even with your efforts to educate them or maintaining their normal routine. After all, some things will definitely change. For younger kids, affection and attention can go a long way. You may be surprised what a special dessert, frequent hugs, or a small gift can do to cheer them up. When they’re feeling sad, let them know that they’re not alone in this experience.
Kids between the ages of five and nine tend to ask more questions. Let them express their feelings and be clear about the situation, so they don’t end up filling the blanks by themselves. Teenagers may struggle with their desire to help or be independent. Try to give them some space and make yourself available if they need someone to talk to.
Cancer is a challenge that often necessitates adjustments to goals, responsibilities, and parenting roles. Healthcare providers and support groups are available to help adults and kids deal with illness and loss. Ask your doctor for their advice or look for organizations in your area.