CureSearch for Children's Cancer funds and supportstargeted and innovative children's cancer research with measurableresults, and is the authoritative source of information and resourcesfor all those affected by children's cancer.
We encourage children to attend school or school events whenever they feel well enough and it is medically safe (as advised by the pediatric oncologist). The objective of this come-and-go-as-you-are-able policy is to keep children connected with their primary job: going to school. It is also a message of optimism: you can do this and you will be a long-term survivor of cancer. And, lastly, it is a message of belonging: all of your friends are here and this is where you belong, too.
School personnel should have regular and direct contact with the child's parents. They should also have the name of an emergency contact person on the child's oncology team to discuss any urgent needs the child may have.
The following issues require that school personnel notify parents immediately so they can be in touch with their child's health care team:
We encourage schools to relax certain rules for the child with cancer such as allowing the child to:
When treatment is less intense or has been completed, the child should follow the same rules as all the other children. Children and teens do not like to be different. No longer getting special privileges is a real sign of recovery!
The majority of siblings of children with cancer appear to cope well with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in their brother or sister. Some siblings of children with cancer show their distress with changes in behavior including acting out, difficulty learning and concentrating that might be reflected in declining grades and less interest in activities or spending time with friends. Other siblings may show signs of withdrawal, sadness, or excessive worry. For all siblings, helping them to sustain activities they enjoy is often helpful (sports, Scouts), especially since parents may have less time to spend with the siblings and struggle with how they manage their time between home and the hospital.
The first few months after the diagnosis are a critical time for siblings when they tend to feel the new stresses more acutely. Other critical times are if a child relapses or requires a bone marrow transplant. Some siblings want someone to talk to about their concerns, especially about all the changes in their family. Other siblings do not want to talk about their own feelings or about their brother or sister's cancer at all. Regardless of how well the sibling is coping, extra positive attention at school can be helpful. A teacher, school nurse, or school psychologist can reach out and offer the sibling a chance to just chat casually, not only about the child with cancer but, very importantly, about how the sibling is doing. Some siblings will gladly accept the added attention from an adult. However, older children and teens are likely to turn to friends, rather than adults, for support. The specific approach will depend on the sibling, but offering time and attention later – even if rebuffed the first time -- demonstrates that you are serious about being available.
Some siblings serve as donors for a child's stem cell transplant. Studies have shown that they have fears about the process and they may feel guilty after the procedure if the transplant is unsuccessful or is associated with complications. The older the donor, the more questions and concerns they have, but even kindergartners have worries and concerns. Helping them can be especially difficult since their understanding is limited. We urge parents to let the school know when a sibling is a donor because of the additional stress they are likely to feel if the child with cancer is not doing well.
Things you can do to support siblings:
You might take a look at outside electronic resources such as SuperSibs http://www.supersibs.org/the-sib-spot/index.html.
How to respond when you learn a child in your school has been diagnosed with cancerWays to support a child during treatment