Cancer is something that no one saw coming – especially when it’s a child who’s been dealt with such life-threatening illnesses. The first few weeks are the most critical and dreadful. How will parents deal with the diagnosis the first time?

The moment parents sit with the doctor and hear that their child has been diagnosed with cancer, there’s a hollow feeling that’s hard to describe. There’s no such thing as a right or wrong sense when hearing such bad news. You can either be speechless, shocked, shaken or in tears.

Eliciting complex emotions usually starts the process. How you, as a parent, manifest or act upon it may reflect your child’s behavior. When you show such feelings in front of them, it may psychologically affect them. So when family members experience turmoil after the child is diagnosed with cancer, everyone begins to second-guess themselves, and questions start flooding.

Here are some of the common feelings that parents feel when they’re made aware of their child’s condition:

  • Overwhelmed
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Denial
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Numbness

Succumbing to those feelings is valid, and no one should dismiss parents’ anguish. After all, who, in their right mind, would be glad to see an innocent child who hasn’t gotten so far in life, one that has barely started?

The struggle with breaking the news

It is a significant dilemma when parents don’t know how to tell their children everything in detail – especially when it’s devastating, like cancer. No one could ever comprehend how a developing, small body could endure such cruelty. Anyone would say it’s incredibly unfair.

And with that in mind, how will you tell your child about the various pain and suffering they’re about to go through? Are you willing to brave through the possible heartbreak of seeing the child weaken as the days go by?

Many parents even prefer keeping silent about their child’s condition, fearing how they will react to something they don’t understand. Especially when they’re unfamiliar with terms like chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, they might not even be familiar with the idea and reality of cancer. That’s why most parents hide the fact from their children to protect them.

If you’re a parent who just received dreadful news from the doctor, you instinctively think of ways to shield your child from knowing what they’re about to undergo. While it may be an okay coping mechanism at first, you can’t avoid it forever. Even if breaking it to the child means significant disruptions in life, or worse, depriving them of a normal childhood and decent future.

Coping with a cancer-stricken child

A complete support system is one of the best ways to go about it. Telling your child that they have cancer, and the rest of it, is easier said than done. However, the child will need to prepare for the worst by letting them know beforehand, along with your strength as a parent.

Share the news with honesty.

For a parent, being honest with their child about the diagnosis is a difficult conversation to have. Not only will it possibly strain the relationship for a while, but it can also bring trauma and depression to a young child. Regardless if the child feels confused, scared, or in denial, you must reassure your child completely. They need you more than ever on this dangerous road.

Trust in your child’s perceptiveness.

Children have a remarkable ability to catch onto their surroundings and any changes that come upon them. While they’re unfamiliar with bearing the brunt of cancer, they might know they’re sick. Once you’re ready to divulge the news, have faith that they will come to terms with it. Earning their trust requires effort on your end.

Exert communication

The last thing you want is for your child to misinterpret their situation, adding stress and anxiety. You might feel distressed, but talking to them is needed. It would be best if you explicitly told them about cancer, and its effects on the body, including the grueling medication process. Because once you get past this stage, a more brutal and draining step will come: the painful part of hoping to be cured.

Even so, while you’re present in your child’s life, coping with the fact encourages them to be strong through it all. Your constant care for the child is their pillar towards battling an unpredictable fate. No one deserves to get cancer, not even a young child whose life has just begun.

Coping with cancer through Luisita’s story

The author Dora Przybylek faithfully writes children’s books with disabled characters to reach out to kids in the same situation. Dora aims to send a message of hope and give bits of encouragement that life is still worth living despite their unfortunate circumstances.

Dora’s main character, Luisita, proves she is a force to be reckoned with. Even at such a young age, Luisita never lost hope in getting through cancer. Her courage stems from the constant support from those around her, especially her loved ones.

The book “Luisita is Sick” was a positive reinforcement towards parents and children as they cope with kids getting diagnosed with cancer. 

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