Your child’s cancer diagnosis is a life-changing experience. Shock, numbness and fear threaten to overwhelm you. How can you get over this?
- Shock is a normal reaction that will pass with time.
- Comfort from your spouse, family and friends are very important.
- Ask your child’s healthcare team to give clear and understandable information.
- Talk about your feelings with nurses, social workers and counselors.
Coping with a cancer diagnosis of your child will be similar to the grieving process.
First, there is denial and disbelief. It is OK if these feelings result in your asking many questions or even seeking a second opinion. Sometimes it helps to talk to other parents going through the same circumstances.
It’s normal to feel fear and anxiety. You might fear the unknown, including the impact of cancer treatment on your child and what the future holds for him or her. But there are ways to cope with these feelings. Education about everything related to the diagnosis is the best defence, as is being involved in the child’s care and focusing time and energy in making him or her feel comfortable.
You might become angry; you should realize that this is okay, but when expressing your anger, you should be mindful of others. It is better to focus your energy in coping with the diagnosis and upcoming treatment.
You may also feel sad, which is normal. A cancer diagnosis is a traumatic and unexpected event that drastically changes your family’s life. Hopelessness and despair can easily set in and develop into depression. This is why it’s important to take care of yourself, eat right and get enough sleep so you can look after your child. Asking for help and accepting offers from friends and loved ones to help can lessen the burden of dealing with a cancer diagnosis. It is also important to express those feelings by talking, writing and crying. If you become depressed, seek help; you might need counselling or medication to get you through this. (CCS)