Parents receiving confirmation their child has cancer describe feeling absolutely shattered, bewildered and unable to believe the reality. This is entirely normal – having a child/teenager with a serious disease like cancer is one of the most devastating events families will ever experience. Parents may also feel totally helpless and it is not unusual for them to experience physical symptoms as a result of the stress.
Initial explanations of the child’s disease and treatment will be given by your doctor but this information may need to be repeated several times due to the parents/child feeling overwhelmed, confused and distressed. Parents should not feel embarrassed if they need information repeated as this is a time when important decisions need to be made and a good understanding of the situation is vital.
The discussions with your doctor during the diagnosis stage usually address the following questions/issues:
- What the diagnosis of your child is and what this means?
- How did your child develop cancer?
- Could the cancer have been prevented if diagnosed earlier?
- Is cancer hereditary?
- How long has your child had cancer?
- How prevalent is cancer in children?
- What is the treatment for the particular diagnosis?
- How long is the treatment for?
- What happens after treatment finishes?
- Are there any side effects of the treatment?
- The treatment protocol.
- How/who to contact at the Hospital in the event of an emergency.
- What will/could happen to your child?
- Precautions to take when your child is on treatment.
- Things to look out for.
If you feel you do not have a good understanding do not hesitate to keep asking questions until it becomes clearer to you.