How to care for a cancer stricken child?

A cancer child needs extra love, attention and nutrition more than anyone else in the world.

Love

  • Spend quality time with loads of hugs, kisses and reassurance
  • Play with them. Baby talk to them
  • Cheers them. Motivate them.
  • Give them your full attention. Leave your mobile phones aside.
  • When they are bored on bed during chemotherapy session, do some arts & crafts, watch cartoons, sing a song or even read a book.
  • Talk to the social worker. Let them do the talking to your child, making them learn what they will be going through. Do not lie to them! Kids nowadays ain’t stupid!
  • Go to the library and borrow some pictorial books on cancer. Teach them what are cancer. Use baby descriptive words at first. Gradually introduce big words such as tumour, cancer, surgery and etc to them.
  • Encourage them to mingle and make new friends. Tell them they will never be alone.
  • Hold their hands or carry them to any procedures and/or during procedures. For surgeries if you can, try asking the doctors for permission to walk them into the theatre, and waiting for them at the recovery centre. Do try ask if the child can bring their closest items (e.g. soft toys, pillows, blankies and etc) with them into the operating theatre.
  • Reward them with gifts for achieving a task (e.g. medicine taking, injections and etc) done.
  • Do what you’ve promised. Don’t give them empty promises!

Aesthetics

  • Hair falling is traumatic espically for girls. Coax them to the hairdresser for a new short hairstyle. Be sensitive and patience. Try not to convince them to shave their hair off at one go.
  • Buy a hat. Any of those they like.
  • During shower time, use a mild soap to bathe them and to wash their hair. Slowly use your fingers to go through their hair. This will allow the hair to come off easily. Again, reassure them nice new pretty hair will grow out in no time.

Nutrition

  • Children under chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments have very low immunity. Practice good hygiene such as washing & sanitising of hands frequently. Wear a surgical mask.
  • Ensure all foods served are freshly made and well cooked
  • Talk to your children’s dietician. Read up for more details on what can and cannot be eaten
  • Treatment causes them to puke and lost of appetite. Try not to force them to eat or drink. Serve sips of water or juices.
  • Feed them frequently in small portions. Changing of cutlery sets to plastics may help due to change in taste and smell
  • Buy them what they want to eat.

Be Responsible

  • Take ownership on your child’s condition. Many a time though you’re in the hospital, responsibilities are on parents. Feed them if you need. Entertain them if you can. Bathe & clean them if you can. 
  • Learn to read your child’s body symptoms.
  • Check with your financial advisors on the policies that you have bought for your child
  • Talk to your social workers for financial assistance scheme 

What to expect (Pre-Chemotheraphy)

  • Pre-admission procedures such as height & weight, temperature taking, blood tests and/or urine tests are done to ensure the child’s body is in good condition
  • Children will be made to implant port-a-cath onto their right or left chest. This is being done by a 2 hours short surgery procedure. Don’t be surprised if pre-chemotherapy procedure starts right after the surgery.
  • Pre-hydration will be given before the actual chemotherapy begins. Chemotherapy will also end with at least 24 hours of hydration.

    What to expect (Post chemotherapy)

    • Neutropenic Fever – This is very 
    • common due to low neutrophil count. Body temperature above 38°C must seek immediate attention at the A&E
    • Vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation – Usually anti-vomitting will be given. However if symptoms worsen, head straight to the A&E
    • Lost in weights
    • Low count in white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets – Usually if they’re low in blood count. Their lips will be pale and they will feel lethargic. There is a minimum threshold the doctors will take into concern before performing any form blood transfusion. Be reminded to inform doctors if your child is prone to any allergic reactions. Anti-allergy medicine may be prescribed prior blood transfusion.
    • Drink lots of water.
    • Keep out of crowded places and ensure top notch personal hygiene.
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