Communicating with children who have cancer and their parents make most people uncomfortable. They don’t know what to say and what not to say. This uncertainty often makes the whole situation even more uncomfortable for everyone. To help out all our readers and patients, Children Cancer Fund would like to share a few tips on what to say and what not to say. Remember that there are no exact rules or ways to react. The most important thing is to just show compassion and be there in whichever way you may be needed.
What NOT to say to children and teenagers
“I know how you feel”- Unless you also have cancer, that is definitely not something you want to say.
Don’t offer advice if not asked – If you haven’t been through a similar experience, your advice may not be accepted well. You don’t understand the situation or how these kids feel and they will not believe that your advice is valid.
“Everything will be okay” – You don’t know that and you will most likely be seen as a liar or insincere. There are no guarantees with cancer and even though you may mean well, this phrase will not always be taken well.
Tell them to always be happy or positive – Yes, they should stay positive and hopeful, but sometimes they need to be allowed to just be afraid and angry and unsure. They will appreciate a friend who can stick by them through that much more than one that only wants to see the happy.
“Everything will be back to normal soon” – This ties in with ‘everything will be okay’. Apart from the fact that you don’t know this to be true, your child, family member, friend, or co-worker will never be the same. Going through a battle with cancer is something that changes your life forever. You will never look at things the same or experience things the same. You will always support others who are going through the same things and you will likely never ‘get over it’. That’s another one to avoid.
What NOT to say to parents with children with cancer
Don’t offer advice – You don’t know how they feel or what exactly the situation is. If you don’t have experience with what they’re going through, keep the advice to yourself.
Don’t use platitudes – This may be the one thing that can really cause a problem. Parents who have a child fighting cancer, don’t want to hear how there is a reason for everything or that God must be punishing them or that it is God’s will that this happened. None of those things helps them or makes them feel better. It is also very hard for these parents to imagine why God would allow this to happen.
Don’t judge them – Again, you are not in their shoes and you don’t know what they are struggling with. Don’t judge decisions that you don’t understand and don’t tell them you would have done it differently. It’s not your child and you don’t know.
Instead of these things, rather just let both child and parents know that you are there for them, that you love them, and that you will support where ever and however you can. When you say these things, make sure to follow through. You can find more resources about this on the RESOURCES page.
Art is universal and has many different mediums. Art can inspire and say things that are otherwise difficult to say. Art speaks for us and to us in the most amazing ways.
Art therapy helps to heal us mentally, emotionally, and physically. There are many facets to this statement. Any form of art whether it is dance, drawing, painting, playing music, coloring, building something, is good for our psychological well-being. The reasons for this are multiple.
Art allows us to express feelings, emotions, and thoughts about experiences and situations that we either cannot express in words or don’t know how to express. This is how children with cancer communicate and deal with their fears, frustrations, anger, and anxiety about their disease. It helps them express their feelings in a way that makes them feel good and does not harm anyone. Art does the same for people who don’t suffer from any diseases but simply need to also deal with life and difficult situations.
Art gives us something to do. For children who cannot go anywhere or who are stuck in a hospital, art can give purpose. It gives them something to do and feel good about. If they know their works may be sold, it gives them a sense of pride and purpose which makes them positive. Positivity is key to being mentally strong and dealing with cancer.
Art is a distraction. This again applies to anyone whether they have a terminal disease or not. Art makes us forget about pain, anxiety, bad news, sickness, sadness, etc. This is also where the physical healing of art comes in. Not only does it make pain and discomfort more bearable but it also releases happy hormones that make us feel better. You may not be administering drugs to your body, but the effect is the same.
Art battles depression. Many cancer patients have the risk of becoming severely depressed about their diagnosis and future. This is even the case in young children. Being creative and making things that give you purpose and make you feel good, helps to battle depression. If you feel good and like you have something to live for, it is more difficult to give in to depression.
Art can help improve mobility. Dancing and playing instruments can help with physical movement and mobility. After traumatic treatments or when children get antsy, movement is a great way to make them feel better. They can express themselves and be silly and also give their muscles some exercise.
Art is holistic healing. The effects of creating art are numerous and very positive. This positivity and good feelings help to heal the body and the mind in many ways. It may not be a cure for cancer or other difficult situations, but it definitely helps to reduce negative feelings.
Come and see what our child cancer patients have to say by joining our events where their art is for sale. These events and sales are aimed at raising funds for research and treatments.
Cancer influences a child’s development in different ways. We look at some of the effects on social, emotional, and cognitive development in today’s article. Children Cancer Fund sees a lot of children with cancer and we also see how the disease affects them. Children who live with cancer are some of the most resilient people you will ever meet in your life. However, certain parts of their development are still influenced.
Isolation – Older kids and teenagers may withdraw and feel isolated because of hospitalization and not spending as much time with their friends. Younger kids tend to be less influenced by this and will still keep playing with other kids in the hospital. Older kids may feel more isolated and even withdraw further because of this. What often helps older kids with their social development, is meeting other kids that are the same age and going through the same or similar experience.
Depression – Kids and teenagers of all ages may experience some level of depression. The treatments, their diagnosis, the isolation, and their fears can all contribute to depression and anxiety. Parents should be aware of this possibility and ensure that their child feels loved and that he or she can talk to them about those fears and anxieties.
School – When children with cancer have to be hospitalized or receive treatments that take them out of school for long periods, their cognitive development may fall behind. It is important for parents to make sure that they find ways to fill the gaps and ensure that their children stay on track and develop their cognitive skills as they should. Home schooling and other teaching resources will help with that. Therapists at the hospital will probably have contacts and ideas for helping parents overcome this problem.
Rebellion – Sometimes kids with cancer act out because of the frustration, fear and anger they experience. A child with cancer has a different way of seeing the world and his or her world changes immediately when a cancer diagnosis is made. For a child who lived a normal and active life for years before the diagnosis, the acceptance of this can be difficult. Rebellion in kids and teenagers that are trying to deal with their disease and come to terms with what it means, are common.
Socialization – Socialization is part of growing up and it is necessary for children to develop social skills and learn how to interact with others. It can easily happen that a child with cancer does not have enough opportunities to socialize. It is important that parents try and ensure that their children get time to spend with other children their age. It often happens that treatment centers in hospitals have programs where the children can play and be kids. It is a good idea to encourage your child to take part in these activities.
Cancer is never an easy thing and in some ways, it may even be harder for children than adults. For more information on development and other related issues, please visit the RESOURCES page on this website.
A healthy lifestyle is important for the whole family. This becomes even more important when you have a child with cancer. A healthy lifestyle with fresh fruits and vegetables and exercise have often been prescribed as part of treatment. A healthy lifestyle makes it easier for your body to stay healthy or to heal and get better when you’re sick. If your child has cancer, a healthy lifestyle can very possibly contribute to a longer life and give them more energy to enjoy life.
Lead by example – Children will copy your habits because they see your behavior as good and acceptable. So, lead by example. Make sure that you follow a healthy lifestyle that includes all the next points.
Eat healthier – Make good food choices that include a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, reduced fat dairy products, and whole grains. Snacks are good but should not be cake and potato chips. Instead, try whole grain crackers and fresh fruits.
Drink lots of water – Substitute soft drinks and other sugary beverages with water. Water is healthy and the best way to stay hydrated. Other drinks contain too much sugar and can sometimes make you even thirstier. Water is always available and it has no added sugar.
Be active – This can be a family activity. Everyone in your family should get at least an hour of exercise everyday. This can consist of going for a walk or a jog, swimming, playing games outside, playing with the dogs, etc. There are many inexpensive ways to keep your family active and fit.
Be positive – This is always important but especially so when you have a child with a terminal illness. Positivity can conquer many things and it makes your family mentally strong. Positivity is the best defence when it comes to dealing with difficult situations, waiting for results, etc.
Limit screen time – Electronics are part of our lives and denying your children these devices is almost impossible. However, you can limit the time spent on the Internet, playing video games, watching television, etc. Make a rule and stick to it. This way your children will get what they want and also get to do what is healthy for them.
Spend time together – A family that spends time together is strong. You can do arts and crafts, play games, or even just eat dinner together. This will make your family feel safe and connected. This is very important for children living with cancer because they can easily feel and become isolated. Being part of something and feeling like a normal kid will do wonders. You can also incorporate art therapy and other therapeutic activities as prescribed by the doctor.
A healthy lifestyle is not just something doctors and healthcare professionals try to sell. It can legitimately improve your quality of life and also make you live longer. This doesn’t mean that you are never allowed to eat a piece of cake or fries again. It simply means that you and your family should keep moderation in mind and have healthier habits.
Treatment options for cancer in children have advanced in recent years. Research and the search for a cure for cancer is still happening across the world, but no one cure has been found. Cancer in children are less common than in adults and this means that studies and research are limited when it comes to cancer in children. Research based on adult cancer can only help to a certain extent as cancer in children and adults are two different things with different causes.
Treatments are generally combined to create better odds for positive results. Most of the treatments of cancer have serious side effects and can cause other health problems in future. Treatment options and combinations should be considered carefully and parents should ensure that they understand what the treatments will involve.
The main treatments used for cancer in children are:
Surgery is always risky, but when it comes to cancers that involve tumors, this is often the best options. Doctors do surgery to cut out the cancerous tumor and surrounding cells. They usually try to remove as much of the cell mass and the surrounding tissue to reduce the chances of it coming back. Surgery is sometimes not an option because of where the tumor is located and then doctors must try other options. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are also often combined with surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells surrounding the tumor area.
Chemotherapy is one of the most used treatments for cancer patients. It involves administering a combination of very strong drugs. These may be administered one by one or several at once. It is a controversial treatment that many people and doctors believe actually cause more harm than good. Because of this, make sure that you understand what chemotherapy is and ask your doctor to explain the process and the possible risks and side effects before allowing this therapy for your child. Chemotherapy has proven successful in many cases and less so in others. Research is still being done on better treatments.
Radiation therapy involves ‘zapping’ cancer cells or tumors with high-energy particles to destroy them. Radiation also has many different potential side effects just like chemotherapy. Radiation is often combined with other treatment options like surgery or chemotherapy. One of the main risks of this therapy is destroying healthy cells surrounding the bad cells.
This is one of the newer treatments that didn’t exist a few decades ago. It is also called biological therapy and involves the use of materials that are created by the patient’s body or in a lab. These materials are used to help the body heal its immune system or target specific areas. Examples of this therapy include interferons and cancer vaccines.
Transplants of bone marrow, cord blood, and stem cells are also used as treatment options. Most people know about bone marrow transplants for leukemia. However, thanks to medical research and advances in recent years, doctors can now also transplant stem cells. Stem cells are specialized cells that are placed in the body with the purpose to replace the bad cells and make it possible for good cells to grow again.
Cancer treatments all carry risks, but they also have the potential of having great results for your child. Approximately 60% of children with cancer go into remission and live for five years or longer than expected. Other programs like art therapy are also used to support these treatments.
Diagnosing health problems can prove to be difficult for doctors and therefore is delayed at times. One of the reasons for this is because some illnesses are too rare, if not too unrealistically unfamiliar, for diagnosticians to be able to detect them early on or even after several medical tests.
The age is also another factor why some diseases are more difficult to diagnose than most cases. As well, some diseases tend to be concealed by other illnesses that doctors find it hard to uncover and when they do, it can be on their later phase or stage.
Let us discuss more these difficulties in diagnosing health problems.
Why Some Diseases Are More Difficult to Diagnose Than Most Cases
Age and genetics. The age of the patient is a factor that affects the difficulty and even the accuracy of diagnosis of some illnesses. This has something to with genetics too.
For instance, it is more difficult for doctors to detect illnesses in infants as babies do not have fully developed physique and build yet. Their speech, movements and behavior are also yet limited and restrained. They cannot yet speak out about any discomfort they may be feeling which may already be a symptom. Their physical appearance or even internal organs can also hardly indicate symptoms yet.
Another reason why it is more difficult for doctors to detect illnesses in infants is because theirs can be genetic or hereditary which may remain dormant until they are grown. Therefore these diseases may be inherently unable to be identified and determined until they reach a certain age when the illnesses start to manifest.
Obtaining blood samples for the purpose of diagnosing health problems from infants are also at time skipped because the process can be unpleasant and painful for the babies.
Similarities of symptoms with other more common diseases. At times, some symptoms tend to be similar to those of other more commonly diagnosed diseases that some doctors fail to find the actual illness which the patient has early on.
There are some instances wherein symptoms are too familiar and identifying with another ailment that diagnosing health problems proves to be more difficult and takes longer than usual. These symptoms tend to hide or obscure the actual ailment which the patient is suffering from.
In other instances though, symptoms are too vague and unclear that it proves to be difficult to arrive at accurate diagnosis.
Seemingly strong and good health. An even seemingly healthy general state and conditions of a person can also be another reason why it is difficult to detect ailments in them. As they seem too healthy and fit, these persons hardly show any adverse signs or symptoms to proceed with diagnosing health problems.
Diagnosing Health Problems Related to Mental, Emotional, Psychological and Behavioral Disorders
Diagnosing health problems that have to do with the human psyche can be a puzzle to doctors. In many cases, patients tend to overlook symptoms of mental illnesses and therefore may be unaware of their erratic behavior and emotional state and conditions.
In addition, the difficulty in diagnosing health problems that have to do with the human psyche also lies in that these mental disorders hardly have any physical signs or evidences to prove and confirm their existence in some patients. Blood tests or urine examinations are even barely used to detect mental disorders.
While psychological and psychiatric tests may be helpful and useful, they are not always precisely conclusive.
Diagnosing Health Problems May Be Difficult but You Can Do Your Part in the Diagnosis
As a patient, you have to be proactive and participative in your discussions with your physicians. Be alert and assertive in speaking up and asking questions. You have to be a well-informed patient so that together with your physicians, you can arrive at accurate conclusions about the illness which you may have that is yet to be discovered.
On an average scale, they say a man dies half a decade earlier than his spouse. This is because women are healthier than men based on medical research and observation.
Nowadays, with all the technology in medicine and lifestyle it is a common issue for men on how to deal with male health problems. Because maybe, it is just too much to handle or undeniable a huge mental argument of oneself.
Fitness facilities for both male and female are on every block of every city. There are also numerous sites and videos uploaded in the internet that gives tips and keys for your health and wellness. WebMD is a good health reference online but it is highly recommended that you visit your doctor.
If men are much more defenseless than men at which the study had proven, that gives us more reason to take male health problems much more serious than we know.
We are not always the superhero or immortal that we think we are all the time. Especially young men in their twenties to thirties. Because they are at the peak of their well-being, they tend to taste every single thing the world has to offer.
Erroneous orientation and practice through the years can affect one’s health. It may be not today or tomorrow, but sooner or later, symptoms of male health problems can just show up one morning.
Common Male Health Problems
Men are much more audacious, resulting to expose themselves to more risky situations than women. Our common thinking about the two sexes is that we all know that a high percentage of women are much more hygienic than men. They tend to care more about their skin, the food they eat and the clothes they wear.
In our modern age, men are now much more enthusiastic about embracing to learn the proper ways to take good care of themselves, in mind, body, and spirit.
Here are some of the health issues that men can prepare for or avoid having:
1. Cardiovascular Disease
Heart problems play the number one and two spot with stroke as the main causes of death both for men and women. This heart disease happens when there’s a plaque or atheroma developing inside the heart’s artery wall caused by fatty deposits.
How to Avoid It:
The good thing about the said disease is that there are several ways to prevent from happening. This includes at least 30 minutes to one hour of cardiovascular exercises to increase your heart rate and dispose the fatty oil from the food you intake by sweating.
Another basic thing to save you from heart issues is by making better choices with the food that we eat. That means, avoid processed food and saturated fats.
2. Erectile Dysfunction
This reproductive issue is very common among aging and older men. Usually, those that are fifty and above. They tend to have sexual issues as one of the common effects of those who are experiencing the dysfunction.
How to Avoid It:
Nothing beats eating right and monitoring your cholesterol. A daily walk or run in the city or at the park would give you satisfying results.
3. Oral Cancer
Men are much more possible than women of having mouth cancer. This kind of disease is caused by smoking, drinking too much alcohol and sexual acts.
How to Avoid It:
Abstinence from tobacco and smoking reduces the risk of having oral cancer. Have a healthy diet by eating fruits and vegetables especially those that are rich in vitamin C.
Male Health Problems at 50
There is no specific reason yet why prostate cancer is known to aging men. Such cases are commonly diagnosed in men that are over the age of 50.
Genetics and family history is also a factor why prostate cancer is developed to older men. Research also found that a female member of the family who developed cancer of the breast can also increase the risk of men to have prostate cancer.
Those men who also gave up the healthy lifestyle and are obese can also be linked to having prostate cancer, and that includes erectile issues.
Again and again, Exercise, a healthy diet, and lifestyle is the best option to prevent and stop the development of life-threatening diseases.
Best Health Strategies
A consistent practice of being healthy and choosing what is better for your wellness is not just about making yourself a favor. You, your family, colleagues, and friends benefit when you are a man of a healthy mind, body and spirit.
Being healthy is not about having six packed abs and zero percentage body fat. A man who is free from male health problems is a productive human being. He knowledgeable enough to avoid the diseases that can turn things around for him.
Here are the most doable and realistic ways on how to keep you from health issues and diseases:
- Enough Sleep
- Daily and Regular Exercise
- Avoid Addiction or any Substance Abuses
A man that is healthy and well made the decision for himself one morning of his life. He may have decided to wake up early and run. Choosing fruits over some chips in the grocery. Instead of alcohol beverages, he chose the teabags.
Each biological body is indeed vulnerable especially nowadays that most of what we eat are processed, and diseases are also evolving over time. But each step that we take to becoming a healthier person each day gives us a big leap on keeping the wellness of the life that we have.
Start making the right choices, after all, life is about making choices. Go get what’s better!
Cancer in children is something that every parent hopes will never happen. Cancer is the second leading cause of child deaths. There are different types of cancer that can occur and these are different than cancer that occurs in adults. The causes of cancer are also different for children than adults. Adult cancer tends to develop due to lifestyle or environmental factors. With children, the causes are related to DNA changes and other biological factors.
There are certain types of cancer that occur in children more often than others. Certain types of cancer are very rare in children; however, it is not impossible. The main types are:
Cancer of the Blood – Leukemia
Leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children. There are two types: acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This cancer starts in the bone marrow and spreads to the blood. Leukemia means that sick white blood cells take over the healthy ones and reduce the risk of the body to fight infections.
Cancer of the Immune System – Lymphoma
Lymphoma is cancer that attacks the immune system. The immune system is the army of the body and it has fighter cells called lymphocytes. Lymphoma starts in these lymphocytes and it affects lymph nodes and lymph tissues. There are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This type of cancer is more prominent in children of certain ages and children younger than 2 or 3 are less likely to develop this type of cancer.
Tumors – Brain cancer, bone cancer, etc.
Brain tumors are the second most common type of cancer in children. Tumors are large masses of cells that are sick. These cells grow bigger and can cause many other problems in the body. There are different types of tumors and they can occur in the brain, bones, and other tissues. Many different cancers fall into this category including Ewing Sarcoma, eye cancer, Wilms Tumors, liver cancer, neuroblastoma, Rhabdomyosarcoma, skin cancer, and thyroid cancer.
Some cancers are more common than others but the symptoms or warning signs are often mistaken for signs of other diseases or illnesses. The symptoms are often very similar to those of more common and less dangerous childhood illnesses. It is important to make sure that doctors can rule out cancer when you start seeing symptoms that may indicate either cancer or other illnesses. Other diseases can also coexist with cancer and cause more difficulty for diagnosis. Read more about treatments here.
Art has always been a powerful medium for expression and relaxation. Art can take many forms like drawing, dancing, playing an instrument, etc. The arts have been used very successfully as a treatment option for many different mental and physical health issues. Art therapy is a very real and very successful way in which people’s emotions and pain are expressed. It also helps people relax.
Art therapy has been used in many hospitals across the world and many of these hospitals have in-house art therapists and programs to help patients. Children are especially fond of art and art therapy is one of the best ways to help them through difficulty. This is why we are looking at art therapy and the effects it has on children with cancer.
Art therapy makes pain and anxiety management easier. This type of therapy is effective in managing both mental and physical pain. It helps the child to express their pain and anxiety in a way that they are comfortable with. Often words are uncomfortable or just cannot express what they are feeling. Art helps them express the inexpressible. It also helps reduce the effects of physical pain through distraction and relaxation.
It boosts the child’s confidence. When a child creates something that they are proud of, their confidence increases. Every time someone compliments them on their work, they get another boost. Confidence is important in battling cancer because it makes the child more positive and mentally strong to fight back. It gives them hope and something to be proud of.
Art reduces stress. Dealing with cancer and treatments are stressful for both parents and children. Art therapy can be used to relieve stress for adults and children. Getting involved with an art project shifts focus away from the stressful situation and gives the person a break from worrying and may even help them get to a state of relaxation. The body and mind need to relax to help healing happen.
Children get to socialize. Children with cancer that are very sick or must be isolated don’t get many opportunities to socialize with other children. Art therapy in hospitals may give them the opportunity to spend time with other kids that are also going through what they are. Just being with other people and having a conversation can have great healing effects.
Art therapy is undeniably effective in helping patients with cancer, especially children. Many hospitals offer art therapy as part of their treatment plans. The art created by patients are also sometimes used to raise funds for research or to cover expenses.