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Caring for Children with Cancer

Caring for a child with cancer has unique challenges. It may be difficult for your child to return to school and normal life after treatment ends. But, there are many resources that can help you and your child navigate this journey, learn to cope, and find other families going through the same situation. 

Find a Camp for Your Child to Attend

In-person events and camps for children with cancer and their families are a great way to meet others going through the same things as you. Cancer.net has a list of camps around the US and internationally.   

Girl in the pool at Camp Fantastic

Camp Fantastic

Camp Fantastic is a camp in Front Royal, Virginia that is run by the organization Special Love. Special Love hosts events throughout the year to bring children with cancer and their families together for friendship and fun. Camp Fantastic is one week in August where children with cancer get to do summer activities like swimming, canoeing, horseback riding, and roasting marshmallows by the campfire. Camp Fantastic is a special opportunity for children with cancer to make strong bonds and life-long friends with their peers. Special Love also hosts camps specifically for siblings of children with cancer.

NCI has a unique partnership with Special Love and Camp Fantastic. Each child who attends also agrees to take part in a research study that looks at the psychological benefits of a normal camp experience for children with cancer. Children are enrolled in the study “Psychological Benefits of a Normalized Camping Experience for Children with Cancer” and become outpatients of the NIH Clinical Center.  The results of this study will help improve the quality of care for children with cancer.

Find Online Forums for Families with Children with Cancer

Retuning phone calls and texts can be tiresome. Blogging or sharing your family’s journey through an online forum allows you to give everyone an update at the same time and when you are ready. Blog sites, like CaringBridge, can provide an outlet for caregivers to write about their children’s experiences with cancer and get supportive comments from their community. It can also help keep family and friends informed about how your child and family are doing. 

Help Prepare Your Child for Procedures

Your child may feel scared or anxious about medical procedures. This is normal. You can help ease your child’s fears by answering their questions and explaining what they can expect during the procedure. Cancer.net has a guide for preparing your child for procedures.

Explore Apps for Children with Cancer

  • Imaginary Friends Society is an app developed for children with cancer going through treatment. It features a cast of characters that offer children emotional support during treatment. (Available for Apple devices)
  • Simply Sayin’ is an app is designed for children to help them better understand medical terms and cope with their medical experience, using child friendly pictures and explanations. (Available for Apple devices)
  • Xploro is an app for hospitals to use with children and young adults with cancer to teach them about their diagnosis and treatment. It includes interactive games and a personalized avatar to engage children and help reduce fears related to the cancer journey.

Adjusting to Life After Treatment

After treatment ends, you and your child may feel uncertain about how to move on to a new normal. Depending on your child’s age, they may need help with different things. The American Cancer Society has a list of tips for helping children in each age group, from infants to teens, adjust to life after treatment.

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