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5 coping mechanisms for parents whose children have cancer

Dr. Lala .A.

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In lieu of this month being designated as childhood cancer awareness month, it’s pertinent to discuss coping mechanisms for parents and care givers whose children or wards have been diagnosed with cancer.

Anne is four. She is a lively, playful child who has not been to the hospital since her last immunisation.
Then, her mom notices her abdomen seems rounder than usual but that’s not a problem because Anne loves eating and the festive season was just what she needed.
One week after she noticed the ”over-fed abdomen”, Anne starts coughing and refuses to eat. Just a cough, her mom thinks but the doctor says it’s cancer.
”How? What? Why?” she wonders. The five stages of grief is activated but it takes long getting to the last stage.
When she finally accepts the diagnosis, ”it’s too late, she would have had better chance if you had come earlier” the doctor says.

1. Work to Keep Relationships Strong
Relationships are strained and under pressure when a child has cancer. However, many marriages grow stronger during this time. Working to keep your marriage strong can also help your children.
2. Get Support
Research shows what you most likely already know—that help from others strengthens and encourages your child and your family. Let others help during this difficult time. You can do this by; Finding an easy way to update family and friends, telling people how they can help you, joining a support group, seeking professional help.
3. Work with your child’s health care team.
Build strong partnership and communication, take partnership of the many specialists who can help your child, make sure you understand whatever you are told, ask questions and maintain a two-way network and keep your child’s paediatrician updated about the management plan.
4. Make time to renew your mind and body as a parent.
As a parent, it’s important to take time to re-energize. Find ways to relax and lower stress, take a walk, jog, go to the gym, engage in activities you enjoy.
5. Hope for the best because ”The most important thing in illness is never to lose heart.” ~Nikolai Lenin
Remember these words;
”The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it.” C.C. Scott
“The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.” Plato
“We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.” Winston Churchill
”Hope is the physician of each misery.” Irish Proverb
”Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” Christopher Reeve
“Never, never, never give up.” ~Winston Churchill

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Dr. Lala .A. is a graduate of University of Ilorin who also holds a Diploma in Computer Engineering. She is an MDCN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) certified doctor who aspires to be a plastic surgeon involved in creating awareness about women's rights and responsibilities and also training would be surgeons. She is a proud member of various reputable bodies including the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and Young Africa Leaders Initiative (YALI). She loves to read, write, sleep and play the drums in her spare time.