Your child after Treatment

After treatment some children will continue or begin to experience problems. These development problems include growth, intellectual development, problems with the heart, lungs and kidneys as well emotional development. Help is available.

Key Concerns raised by children following treatment include:

  • Being different (not being able to do as their friend do)
  • Weight gain (especially having a ‘moon’ face and ‘puffiness’)
  • Hair loss/having to wear a wig
  • Slurred speech and poor vision
  • Co-ordination problems/ being in a wheel chair
  • Always feeling tired, missing out on favourite activities
  • Having to wear a hearing aid
  • Not being as tall as their friends
  • Not being able to do PE /balance problems
  • Memory problems/finding school work hard
  • Having to have different food (special diets)
  • Over protective parents/lack of independence
  • Fear of injury ‘getting bumped’ ‘breaking limbs’
  • Loss of confidence and loss of friendships
“My parents think I don’t remember being in hospital, but I can’t forget. Sometimes when I think about it I start to cry”
“Just because I find it difficult to speak, doesn’t mean I’m stupid, I’d like people to understand that”
“I lost all my friends when I had cancer, they are still nice they’re just not my friends anymore. I’m just different”
“I want to be ‘normal’ I want to do things like I used too, but I’m too tired” “I wish I could run around like my friends do”
“I don’t remember what my life was like before the cancer. Age eight, I was in hospital for two years with a brain tumour” 
“I like meeting other children who know what having cancer is like”
“People treat me like I’m going to break. I know I’m different but I just wish they’d try to treat me normally”
“People still treat me differently and I don’t want that”

Healthy Lifestyle

Leading a healthy lifestyle can have a positive effect on reducing the side effects of cancer treatments and the progression of the cancer.

Many children say that their physical health and the disruption to their school life are the most devastating effects of their illness.

Many children miss swimming (an activity few have been able to do during treatment). It may help to speak with a swimming instructor to help your child slowly increase their fitness.

Schooling

Going to school gives children a sense of normality and many will wish to return as soon as they are able. Older children may be anxious about returning to school due to their personal appearance, loss of friends or peer related anxiety. Some children say teachers, friends and peers all treat them differently since their illness. There are concerns about being excluded from the group of friends and children preferring to play with other more able bodied children. Well meaning teachers can further alienate children with cancer from their peers.

Many children express frustration and they find school work difficult since having cancer (although this could also be attributed to missing a lot of schooling and getting behind with work)

Support film – The importance of Friends youtube graphic 1c v sml 

Some children have issues that always feeling tired stops them from being able to participate in activities inside and outside of school. Others sited ‘parental attitudes’ as a problem, e.g. parents not liking their child playing physical games for fear of injury.

Whilst many children receive tutoring from a hospital teacher, they may still struggle when they return to school. Generally speaking, children best cope if there has been liaison between the child’s school teacher and the hospital teacher.

a caucasian girl with hair loss due to cancer smiling at the camera

Children frequently worry about looking different. Especially, those who have had chemotherapy and have lost their hair. Other children’s curiosity can be very upsetting. Some children tell of being ‘bullied’ for the way they now look or act.

The first step to overcoming problems is to talk with the school head about your child’s concerns and to make sure that the teachers and children have an understanding of your child’s needs and wishes.

Educational Support Assistant

If your child struggles with any of the following they may be able to get support:

  • Poor vision and/or hearing
  • Mobility or co-ordination difficulties
  • Difficulty understanding instructions/organising their thoughts/poor memory
  • Trouble keeping up their peers

Funding for a support assistant should be available from your local council. The council may wish for an educational psychologist to assess your child’s abilities and needs. Talk to the head teacher regarding the available support. (Sometimes, other parents may offer to sit with your child).

Some children are able to talk to other children about their illness, others would prefer that an adult (a teacher) told peers the situation to avoid hurtful questions.

It’s important to make sure everyone involved in the care of your child fully understands their needs and that the teachers are aware of visual and hearing impairments.

Children are often very open talking about their cancer. Sometimes they use art or creative writing to express their feelings.

If you believe your child may benefit from art therapy, talk to us. Joss Searchlight funds art therapy to help children throughout their illness.

 

Key emotional concerns
  • Having panic attacks/fears about fitting in and coping
  • Experiencing sleep problems/having nightmares
  • Feeling fragile and worrying about getting hurt
  • Wanting to feel ‘normal’ again
  • Feeling sad and isolated/wanting to meet other children who understand what it’s like to be them
  • Wanting to know the facts about their illness (some children feel they are not given enough information about their illness)
  • Fearing the cancer returning/fears for their own mortality
  • Feelings of no more ‘fun times’
  • Feelings of being singled out for being different