Tips on communication for caregivers and cancer patients


Tips for caregivers:


Helping the sibling of the child with cancer:


Talking to your kids about your diagnosis:



Nine Tips for Talking To Kids About Their Cancer

Helping a loved one face cancer is never easy, but the challenge is
especially daunting when the patient is your own child. Our clinicians at
<http://www.danafarberchildrens.org/default.html&gt; Dana-Farber/Boston
Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center work with pediatric cancer
patients and their families every day.
0082> Lisa Diller, MD,
3551> Anna Muriel, MD, and Jorge Fernandez, LCSW - offer these 9 tips for
talking with your children about their illness.

1. Include them in the discussion. For many parents, the natural instinct is
to not give their child information about their diagnosis to avoid scaring
them. But children can view this protection as exclusion, a feeling that
they are not important enough to include in the discussion. It's also
anxiety-provoking in that it creates uncertainties and fears that the
situation may be worse than it really is.

2. Find a good time and place. Figure out the best time to talk to your
child; maybe in bed, or in the car, or even while doing something fun or
active. Whatever feels most comfortable to them.
<http://www.danafarberchildrens.org/patient-resources.html&gt; We have
resources that can help in the discussion.

3. Be age-appropriate. The youngest kids, for whom cancer has no real
meaning, need to realize that they are ill and that they can trust the
doctors to make them better. Elementary-age kids need to understand their
own specific situation, and what needs to be done, rather than just a global
picture of cancer. Teenagers need to feel they have a say in decision-making
about their treatment, and need to have the opportunity to talk to medical
caregivers alone.

4. Dispel the myths. For many young children, their only experience with
cancer might be grandparents or older people in the movies who died. For
kids, cancer is generally not a fatal disease; the most common childhood
leukemia has a 90 percent cure rate. It's important they understand that
they most likely will be cured.

5. Follow their lead. A child can feel overwhelmed by too much information,
so go at a pace that makes them comfortable. Some kids are more focused on
what's going to happen to their family, and less on their own diagnosis.
Listen and figure out what they want to talk about.

6. Use "real" words. No matter how young a child, words like "leukemia," or
"osteosarcoma" can be less confusing than "bump" and "boo-boo." You want to
be as honest as possible, so that when they overhear information - and
invariably they will - it will be consistent with what you've told them.

7. Don't avoid talking about fears. Parents do worry sometimes that their
child is going to just give up and crumble. You don't want children to feel
left alone with their worries, so whatever the capacity is for conversation
or communication, have it so that your child can talk about their fears.

8. Provide a safe environment to answer - and ask - questions. Sometimes
parents get worried that the kid is going to stump them. If you don't know
the answer, be ready with simple replies like, "That's a really good
question. Let's make sure we ask the nurse or doctor the next time we go to
the clinic."

9. Include siblings. Even if the focus for now is on the child with cancer,
you want your other kids to continue feeling important. Take time to spend
just with them, doing something they enjoy. Include them in discussions
about cancer, especially about things that will affect their everyday lives.
And if they have questions about their sick sibling, answer them honestly.