Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Child's Talk: Sharing News of a Cancer Diagnosis

Among the many difficult questions parents face when diagnosed with cancer is, “What do I tell my children?” Talking to a child about a parent’s, grandparent’s, or sibling’s cancer and how it will affect the family isn’t easy, but it is necessary. By talking to your children honestly and helping them express their emotions, you make it easier for them to feel safe and secure.

Sharing information early on will help build trust. Some tips that you might consider when talking to your children about your diagnosis include:

*Prepare what to say by either writing it down or practicing what you want to say before your first conversation. Timing is also important, and finding a quiet time when your children are rested can make the conversation less stressful.

*Speak with your older children first if you have children of different ages, as the older children might want to help when you tell your younger children.

*Set a tone because what you say is as important as how you say it.

*Keep it brief; most children have short attention spans

*Be honest

*Consider your child’s age and use age appropriate language

*Reassure you children and let them know what they are feeling is normal and okay. It might be helpful to ask what they have heard about cancer so that you can clarify any information that might be incorrect.

Even at a very young age, children can sense when something is wrong. If not told the truth, they might imagine things worse than they really are, or that they might be the cause of the problem. Little people can have big ears and hearing broken conversations about things that they don’t understand can increase their fears. It is for these reasons that having a talk with your children will help everyone in the family so that the channels of communication remain open.

What advice do you have for sharing this news with children? What lessons have you learned?

~ Shannon, Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Grieving Life Changes after a Cancer Diagnosis Occurs

The words “cancer” and “grief” often go hand in hand, just as feelings and emotions can evoke a multitude of reactions. Everyone copes with a cancer diagnosis in their own way, and the same can be said for how someone experiences grief. What you grieve for is as varied as how you think and feel. Whether it’s grieving for the loss of your body as it used to be, things you used to be able to do, loss of the ability to plan due to treatment, or loss of being able to identify with what used to be familiar, some of the feelings associated with loss can include sadness, loneliness, anger, fear and guilt.

It is important to give yourself permission to grieve in a way that feels right for you. It might be difficult to let others in or ask for support, especially if you are more familiar with giving rather than receiving help. Allowing yourself time to adjust to change is a necessary component of grieving. Identifying what you need can take time and often changes as your circumstances change. Trying not to rush through what you are feeling and simplifying things can be helpful in sorting through the process. By doing that, it is a step toward caring for yourself and managing the emotions that come with what you are feeling.

Consider this your permission to take time for yourself today!

~ Shannon, Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Big "W" - Work after Cancer.

Returning to work after cancer treatment can be an exciting and relief-filled event. Getting back to a more “normal” schedule and having a steady income and insurance coverage again can relieve some of the anxiety you may have been experiencing while you were out.

However, it can also be a very anxiety-provoking time for many reasons. More than likely, your energy and endurance is not what is used to be. You may be worried that you won’t be able to handle a full day of work in the beginning. Your attention span might also have been affected by the treatment, and you may find it difficult to focus for extended periods of time. You may be concerned about being treated differently if your co-workers know about your diagnosis, or you may worry about them asking questions if you have chosen not to tell them. There may be a lot of pressure for you to return to work due to financial need or to ensure insurance coverage. This can make re-entry even more anxiety-producing.

Sometimes cancer leads people to seek career changes or to set new goals. This can be a wonderful thing, but it can be difficult to know where to start. You may find it helpful to talk to a counselor about your concerns as you approach this step.

It is important to know your rights and what resources are available to you.
The Cancer Legal Resource Center (CLRC) can provide you with legal information about insurance coverage, employment issues, access to health care and benefits, and estate planning. You can find them online under.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services is another resource that may be able to help you with finding employment if your ability to work has been affected by your treatment. They can be found under.

What are your concerns about returning to work? How did you work through the issues you faced when you returned?

~ Julie, Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center