Psychological and Social Effects
Stress & behavioural changes in children: Treatments can impact on the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of children. They may experience mood swings or confusion about their diagnosis and their parents' reactions. It is important to spend time listening to children and understanding their feelings to help them cope.
Disruption to school: Children have to stop school temporarily until their doctor gives the go-ahead. Parents need to consider positive ways to engage and occupy the children. It is useful to inform the school of the children's conditions, maintain contact periodically and work with the schools to help with their re-integration after treatment.
Anxiety over long-term effects of illness & treatment: Some treatments may have long-term effects on children, and more information can be obtained from the doctor.
Coping with marital strain & employment issues: Couples may experience strain and tension due to the stress of taking care of a sick child and having less time together. Stress may also take the form of employers not understanding the situation. It is helpful for couples to communicate their worries and feelings and work out solutions together. Support systems like extended family members can be tapped upon to help care for children so that parents can rest.Facts and Myths
Myth 1: Cancer is contagious and can spread like flu.
Fact 1: Cancer is not contagious.
Cancer cannot be spread from one child to another. We isolate children with cancer as their immunity is low and are vulnerable to infections.
Myth 2: Childhood cancers are inherited.
Fact 2: There is no known cause for most childhood cancers.
At least 95 % of the cancers in children occur spontaneously. Since the triggers of most childhood cancers are unknown, preventive measures are limited. Thus far, studies suggest that there is nothing a child or parent has done to induce cancer, and therefore, should avoid doing in order to prevent childhood cancer.
Myth 3: Childhood cancers are a death sentence.
Fact 3: Most childhood cancers are curable.
For example, in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, which is a common form of Leukaemia in Singapore, 3 in 4 children will be cured with chemotherapy alone. A successful cure depends on receiving the current-day standard therapy, a positive attitude and determination to overcome cancer.
Myth 4: Children with cancer lose all reasons for living.
Fact 4: Children with cancer can still lead a normal childhood.
Children with cancer can lead a normal childhood. Many children return to normal school life after treatment. In other cases, the children and their families adapt and modify their lifestyle to achieve normalcy. This becomes much easier with care, understanding and support from family, teachers, friends and other caregivers.
Myth 5: All tumours are cancerous.
Fact 5: Not all tumours are cancerous.
Tumours are either benign or malignant. Malignant tumours are cancerous cells that invade and spread to other parts of the body. In contrast, benign tumours invade tissues surrounding it and generally do not spread.