This article is the part of a monthly series of stories focused on cancer issues. Denver7 is proud to partner with the American Cancer Society, Cancer Support Community, Colorado Cancer Coalition and Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HealthONE to bring you these stories, tips and resources.
DENVER — Childhood cancers are rare and represent less than 1% of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. every year. However, when a child is diagnosed with cancer, it can be hard for parents, families and loved ones to know what to do and how best to support children and teens undergoing cancer treatments.
When a child or teen faces a cancer diagnosis, things change for them overnight. A routine with school and friends is replaced with doctor’s appointments and treatments. When talking to your child or teen about cancer, it’s important to consider their age. Infants and young children may find comfort in being close to their parents during treatment. School-age children may want to know what happens with school and their other activities, and teens might have concerns about changes in their appearance. Each individual will also have different reactions to a cancer diagnosis. For more resources, visit the American Cancer Society website.
When one member of the family has a cancer diagnosis, it can impact the whole family. If your child is diagnosed with cancer, there are lots of feelings and emotions and all those reactions are normal. In order to cope with these feelings, parents are encouraged to get support from other family members, social workers, medical staff and other resources and groups in their area. Understanding your child’s treatment and the impact it will have on day-to-day life can also help parents cope with the diagnosis and plan ahead. For more information on coping with a child’s diagnosis, visit cancer.org.
There are a number of direct, local, regional and national support services and pediatric cancer resources geared toward supporting patients and their families, ranging from wish-granting to needs-based organizations.
The needs-based organizations help with everything from financial support for pediatric cancer patients to basic living needs, like rent and grocery assistance. Because the eligibility criteria varies so drastically between organizations, the best way to determine if your child qualifies for support is to speak to your social worker or care team directly about assistance. Through a continuum of care, our inpatient and outpatient social work teams follow our pediatric oncology patients through the course of their treatment.
Child life specialists
Families with a child who has cancer can find support through child life specialists who offer assistance to families and pediatric patients during nearly every stage of the treatment process. Child life specialists provide activities to normalize the hospital environment during both inpatient hospital stays and outpatient visits.
For children and teenagers undergoing cancer treatment, the child life specialist can use virtual reality technology, arts and crafts, movies, games and other activities to help normalize the hospital environment. Child life specialists also engage patients in techniques, which help to minimize stress and anxiety during treatments and patient visits.
For families who have a child or teen with cancer or a blood disorder, the treatment process can be difficult and emotional. Child life specialists work with parents, siblings and patients to help facilitate positive coping techniques and educate about diagnosis, hospitalization and treatment. Additionally, these specialists coordinate with community organizations that provide resources for therapeutic activities to help patients and families cope with treatments.
Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children provides expert care for children with bone cancer. While most tumors in children are benign, the board-certified pediatric complex orthopedic and oncology specialists have extensive experience so that you get the right diagnosis and treatment plan in the shortest amount of time. The multidisciplinary team of specialists treats a wide range of sarcomas (tumors) that are present in the bones, including Ewing sarcoma, chondrosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, giant cell tumor, chordoma and more. RMHC is a leader in providing high-quality treatment and compassionate care for children with cancer.
When you choose RMHC for your child’s cancer care, you are selecting a hospital that combines all of their resources to provide your child with the complete care they need. The pediatric oncologists, orthopedic surgeons, infusion specialists, specially trained nurses, patient nurse navigators and support staff all work together to ensure your child receives the multispecialty care necessary to treat pediatric sarcomas.
Pediatric cancer resources
Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children are proud to offer pediatric cancer resources to help you and your child with life outside of the hospital. They understand treating cancer can put a strain on finances, so they provide a social work team to help you get in touch with national and local resources and organizations who can help.
National pediatric cancer support resources and services include the following:
Denver-area and Colorado state resources include: