Having a child being diagnosed with cancer is probably one of the most challenging and toughest experiences a person can go through. I am not a parent as yet, however I have counselled and coached many and in the process learnt a few things that might be relevant for anyone who is suffering through the same. While a child battling cancer requires all the attention and support he or she can get, which parents invariably do, this might not be the healthiest and most advisable way to deal with the situation.
Depending on the age, often a child is unaware of the severity of the illness and hence is focused on moving forward and going back to the things that he or she enjoys, like playing outside or playing sports, going to school, reading etc. Children have an innate capability to heal rapidly and the reason could be that their focus is not much on the illness and more on the path ahead. It’s the parents that are broken at this point, and justifiably so. Guilt, fear, anxiety, helplessness are very common and lurking emotions that seep into their subconscious state of being, making them operate from a space of panic. They tend to put their lives on hold and focus all attention on the wellbeing of their child. While this is a valid reaction to the situation, it’s usually not the most effective.
I now speak to every parent who’s child is battling cancer. Your child is not unwell because of you or anything you have done, neither are you helpless in the situation. By providing your child with the right treatment and lifestyle support, you are doing more than anyone could at this point in time. Perspective is key and focusing on what lies ahead is even more important. You can learn so much from your children right now. The way they accept the treatment and their ability to concentrate on more important things for themselves. In fact, I would say at this point pay attention to the other sibling (if there is one) because the other sibling is the one who is always ignored and left in the dark. This can have a lasting negative impact on the child and I have seen this happen multiple times. Always keep communication channels open between all children and members of the family. This is the time for self-care and you need to find time for yourself as well. You are a caregiver at this point and if you burn out, it will not be beneficial for anybody.