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Young People with Cancer: A Handbook for Parents

  • Posted: 07/31/2003

Childhood Cancer

Young People with Cancer gives you information on all stages of your child's illness. It tells you what to expect and suggests ways to prepare for different situations. It can guide you to become your child's best advocate or supporter. You know your child better than anyone else - your child's personality, how your child copes with unknown situations and fear, what makes your child laugh or cry. You know what works best - how to humor and talk to your child and how to help your child relax. Try to remember that you are a key part of your child's treatment.

This booklet was reviewed by health professionals and, most important, by parents of children with cancer. Although this booklet does not tell you everything about cancer in children, it is a start, and it directs you to other sources of information. You may want to share this booklet with friends and relatives who want to learn more about what you and your child are going through. Use this booklet to learn:

  • what cancer is and what the different kinds of cancer are
  • how to find the best treatment
  • about cancer treatment and side effects
  • about common medical procedures
  • how to talk to your child about cancer
  • how to handle your own feelings, your child's feelings, and the feelings of others
  • about common health issues
  • what the future holds and
  • where to get more information.

Because this booklet contains so much information, it may be useful to refer to the different sections as you need them. You can use the Table of Contents to find the sections of most interest to you. Words that you may not be familiar with are underlined the first time they appear. You can click on these words to see their definitions. The definitions are taken from the National Cancer Institute's Cancer.gov dictionary.

More children than ever are surviving childhood cancer. Over the last 30 years, survival into adulthood increased from 30 percent to 80 percent. There are new and better drugs and methods to help children deal with the side effects of treatment. And children who have had cancer now have a better quality of life throughout childhood and into adulthood; fewer long-term ill effects follow the treatment.

Yet, in spite of all this good news, cancer is still a serious disease. You are not alone in facing your fears; help is available. A treatment team - doctors, radiation therapists, rehabilitation specialists, dietitians, oncology nurses, and social workers, among others - can help you and your child deal with the disease. They will also help ensure that your child gets the best treatment available with as few ill effects as possible. Resources such as this booklet provide information on childhood cancers and their treatment, suggestions on how to make your child as comfortable and as pain-free as possible, and advice on how to make time for family and friends.