Our hearts go out to children with cancer – and our nonprofit is dedicated to helping to support them and their families. Raising money for the work of any charity is never easy, but when it comes to charities for children with cancer, the argument is truly compelling.
But what about help for children whose mother or father has been diagnosed with cancer?
As we commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we feel it is important to remember and support not only the women who are battling this terrible disease, but also their children.
As researchers in England point out, “Cancer is relatively common among women of childbearing age. Approximately 1 in 9 women in the Western world develop breast cancer, and more than a quarter of them do so while they have children living at home.”
Gillian Forrest, senior research fellow, Caroline Plumb, research assistant, Sue Ziebland, university research lecturer, and Alan Stein, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry set out to explore how children react when their mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. They interviewed almost 40 women and approximately 30 children ages 6 to 18.
The results of their qualitative study showed that most children – even the youngest ones included in the study – knew that cancer was a life-threatening illness. But it hearing the diagnosis wasn’t the shock that many parents or researchers expected. “Children suspected that something was wrong even before they were told the diagnosis,” the researchers found.
It’s hard enough for a woman who is dealing with a cancer diagnosis to process it herself. Knowing she has to help her children cope as well can be overwhelming. “As part of their care, parents newly diagnosed with a life threatening illness need to be supported to think about how they will talk to their children,” the researchers concluded.
Here at Deliver the Dream, a South Florida charity that supports children and families dealing with often overwhelming health conditions, we couldn’t agree more.