Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

It is their worst fear come true for parents

EVERY week in Northern Ireland three children, teenagers or young adults are diagnosed with cancer.

The impact of this is understandably daunting and it can have a devastating effect on family members, especially parents and siblings.

Children and young people diagnosed with cancer often spend long periods of time at home and in hospital.

Many are absent from school and struggle to cope with feelings of isolation and loneliness.

They often experience a range of emotions as well as the physical symptoms of the cancer and side-effects of the treatment.

Changes in a child or young person's physical appearance as a result of the illness can affect their self-image, self-confidence and self-esteem.

When a child is diagnosed with cancer family life is turned upside down. All the day to day problems which families face are intensified.

The challenges of living with childhood cancer include living in isolation to control any risk of infection, coping with treatment plans and relentless trips to and from hospital, and long periods on the hospital ward.

Normal family routines that we all take for granted are seriously disrupted and families rarely get the opportunity to spend time together.

The financial burden on families as parents give up work to nurse their sick child adds more stress and worry to the constant concern and hope for their sick child's recovery.

In some cases, cancer can return. From a psychological or emotional perspective, this is a devastating blow for a family and their worse fear come true.

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