What do I tell the kids?

If you have recently been diagnosed and have children, your first thoughts often go to them. Children need help and support from date of diagnosis. In How to Help Children through a Parent’s Serious Illness by Kathleen McCue she states:

If an illness is serious, it will change the parent in some way. If it is causing the parent(s) high levels of worry or stress, then it will affect the children.

  1. Even in the face of ultimate tragedy, children can be prepared, can weather the trauma, can emerge whole and healthy and ready to go on with life.
  2. On the other hand, children who are not prepared, not given support and understanding , can be permanently scarred by a parent’s medical crisis, even if the parent survives and returns eventually to full health.

Children are resilient when:

  • communication with them is clear and age appropriate and
  • they understand the role they play in your treatment
There are resources to help you manage, including face-to-face meetings, books and websites. There are also resources to help you manage communication with your friends and family and organize the help you may need.

If you only have time to read one thing…

The PACT program at Massachusetts General Hospital lists “A Dozen Lessons Learned” at http://www.mghpact.org/parents. It lists practical advice that you can use from the date of diagnosis. After reading it, you may want to further explore their site.

mghPACT: Parenting At Challenging Times

The Marjorie E. Korff PACT Program offers guidance to parents with cancer who receive treatment at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and are concerned about the impact their cancer diagnosis and treatment may have on their children. PACT staff clinicians work together with parents, drawing on their combined knowledge and experience to develop a plan that each parent can follow to support their child’s continued healthy development.

http://mghPACT.org/

If you need to talk to someone…

Virginia Piper Cancer Institute

Patients and their families are the heart and soul of the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute. We believe that every patient deserves the best technology, from a compassionate staff, in an environment that is focused on their needs.

http://www.allinahealth.org/ahs/anw.nsf/page/vpci_pact

Contact: Nancy Cox
NR, Healing Coach
Allina Health
Virginia Piper Cancer Institute
Minneapolis, MN
612.863.7443

If you need help keeping everyone informed…

CaringBridge.org

An online space where you can connect, share news, and receive support. It’s your very own health social network, coming together on your personalized website. And thanks to those who donate, we are available 24/7 to anyone, anywhere, at no cost. It only takes minutes to set your site up.

http://www.caringbridge.org/

If you need help with the everyday things…

Lotsa Helping Hands

When people rally to help someone in their family or Community, Lotsa Helping Hands makes it easy for each person to know what to do and when. Lotsa Helping Hands offers both Private and Open Communities and is a free service.

http://www.lotsahelpinghands.com/how-it-works/

Practical Tips:

  • If you need child care help, ask the volunteers to come into your home. Children cope better in familiar environments. Younger children can feel like you are sending them away because they somehow caused the cancer and you don’t want them around anymore.
  • Accept help with dinners and chores. Save your energy for time with your children

If you want to read more…

mghPACT: Parenting At Challenging Times

The Marjorie E. Korff PACT Program offers guidance to parents with cancer who receive treatment at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and are concerned about the impact their cancer diagnosis and treatment may have on their children. PACT staff clinicians work together with parents, drawing on their combined knowledge and experience to develop a plan that each parent can follow to support their child’s continued healthy development.

http://mghPACT.org/

Raising an Emotionally Healthy Child When a Parent is Sick

http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Emotionally-Healthy-Harvard-Medical/dp/0071446818