When that doctor says the words, “Your child has cancer,” it is devastating. It takes time to overcome the shock and process all your emotions which probably range from fear and anger to sadness. Once you do, you move on to seeking all the information you can on their particular form of cancer and starting the battle to defeat cancer with your child.
Unfortunately, your child’s physical battle with cancer is only one of the challenges that your family will face. In addition, there are emotional and financial issues that arise for most, and dealing with them while caring for your child can feel overwhelming.
You may not know where to turn, but there are organizations that have been created and whose mission it is to help you and your child navigate this journey. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
Fighting pediatric cancer means these children have their lives completely disrupted. They miss school and can experience physical changes such as losing their hair and discomfort caused by some of the treatments. However, there are organizations available to help lessen the impact of these emotional side effects cancer can have.
When kids have to miss school due to illness or treatments, it is more than the education they miss out on. Losing contact with their friends can be very difficult for them and make them feel disconnected. Monkey in My Chair is a great resource to help your child stay in touch with their classmates and teacher.
The Monkey in My Chair program provides your child with a “monkey kit.” The kits include a monkey with a backpack to take your child’s place when they can’t be there, along with a guide for teachers and a book they can read to the class to help the other kids understand what your child is going through.
They also get access to Monkey Message, which allows them to share pictures and documents with the classroom. You can also contact Hopecam, which provides the tools and technical support to create a webcam link between your child and their classroom. They can then still participate in their class and interact with their friends.
Provided that their classmates have been explained what you’re child is going through, having regular contact with classmates can do wonders for a child with cancer’s emotional well-being. They will feel the support from their friends and will still feel part of the class.
In addition to missing their classmates, some children may have lost their hair and feel self-conscious about that. However, there are ways to help. Wigs have come a long way, and Crowns of Courage is a wonderful organization that provides wigs to pediatric cancer patients at no cost.
It is also important to seek out books with characters that are dealing with cancer or childhood illnesses. Reading about others, even fictional characters, helps them feel less alone and can teach valuable lessons.
Another organization that is dedicated to helping these young warriors be comfortable is Comfycozy’s for Chemo. It can feel awkward for kids to lift their shirts and semi-undress. Comfycozy offers various garments that are specifically designed to make children with cancer more comfortable as nurses and doctors need to access their port. If finances are an issue, you can contact Amanda Hope Rainbow Angels to request a free Comfycozy for your child.
When your child has cancer, caring for them is your number one priority. Unfortunately, this can often mean missing work, travel to doctors and hospitals, along with medical bills. The anxiety caused by financial challenges can affect your mental and physical health at a time when you need all the strength you have to support your child.
There are organizations dedicated to helping families deal with financial issues. They can help relieve the additional stress caused by financial challenges.
You may have great insurance, but the co-payments alone can be hard to cover when dealing with pediatric cancer. The Patient Advocate Foundation’s Co-Pay Relief (CPR) program can help those who qualify by paying those co-payments.
In addition, medication can be costly, so visit NeedyMeds.org to get discounts and help with filling out prescription assistance application forms. The forms can be confusing, and having the help of someone experienced in correctly filling those forms out can be a money saver as well as a stress saver.
In addition to medical costs, many families have trouble paying their mortgage, rent, and other household bills. There are organizations such as Cancer Care where you can receive assistance navigating the financial assistance programs. They can put you in contact with organizations that can help you with your individual situation. Finding emotional support and accessing community programs can be a tremendous help.
Reach Out for Help
If you and your child are dealing with pediatric cancer, this is the time to reach out for help. At times like this, the saying, “It takes a village,” has never been more true.
Ask friends and family to cook a meal or give you a break for an hour so you can recharge. They probably feel helpless watching you and your child go through this and will appreciate the opportunity to help meaningfully.
Reach out to the organizations created to help you and all those going through the agony of childhood cancer. Also, welcome the financial and emotional support that is available. Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on or some financial assistance at some time, and those who can provide it do it with love in their heart and are grateful to be able to help.