Don’t let cancer affect your child’s development!!
Cancer and its treatment can be challenging for the child as well as the parents. The child loses his or her time in hospital either taking chemotherapy or other supportive care admissions. This not only affects the child physically but mentally as well. Thus treatment of a child with cancer has to be a holistic approach involving family members, school teachers and various members of the treating team.
- Eat the right food: Eating the right food can help your child recover faster with lesser side effects. Being underweight and overweight can increase the side effects of chemotherapy. Give your child a healthy balanced diet in small quantities. Consult a doctor or a nutritionist to guide you on how to give the right nutrition to your child.
- Talk to them: Children of any age can get affected and depressed with frequent hospital visits, multiple pricks, vomiting, hair loss, etc. They lose touch with their school and friends, which can affect their overall development. The child may need to be counseled by you, a treating doctor, counselor, or a psychologist. Create an environment for them to make them feel like a normal child.
- Missing school: Missing on studies and missing meeting friends at school can be disturbing for the child; teenagers feel left out. As soon as the child adjusts to the treatment, he/she can resume online classes or discussions with school teachers. Encourage them to stay connected with their friends over the phone. Encourage them to participate in various indoor activities, try to keep them engaged.
- Maintain hygiene: The best way to avoid complications during treatment is to stay clean. Wash your and your child’s hand regularly, eat home-cooked clean food, bathe daily, brush teeth twice, use mouthwashes as advised.
- Take care of the line: Catheters like PICC or Hickman line which are inserted to smoothen chemotherapy administration can be a source of infection if proper care is not taken. Take advice from your doctor, visit the catheter clinic. Keep the ‘lifeline’ clean.
- After treatment completion, follow up at the oncology center regularly. Recurrence needs to be detected early; so even after treatment completion checkups are required. Cancer survivors can suffer from various long-term side effects of treatment (chemotherapy, surgery, radiation), which need to be monitored at regular intervals.
- Connect to social workers, NGOs who can help you with the financial burden of treatment of your child. Treatment abandonment is not the solution; find the solution to your problem.
Don’t be disheartened!
Childhood cancer is curable; if diagnosed in time and treated properly.
Try to make your child’s life as normal as possible, don’t let cancer treatment affect your child’s physical or mental development.
Author: Dr. Megha Saroha, Associate Consultant – Paediatric Oncology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi