The most common paediatric cancers are in order of prevalence: leukaemia, cancers affecting the brain and nervous system, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s type lymphomas, and sarcomas. Fortunately most childhood cancers are treatable if caught early. However, the cancer journey is still an uphill battle, particularly when it’s your little one who is suffering.
According to the Cancer Association of South Africa’s Tough Living With Cancer (CANSA TLC) programme, three of the main challenges a parent may face embarking on the battle against cancer with their child include:
1. A child’s sense of taste is affected by treatment
Infections in the mouth may cause sores in the lining of the cheeks or bleeding gums will affect normal eating habits. They may be nauseous or just too tired to eat, but it is essential that children with cancer eat healthy, balanced meals. Avoid spicy or rich foods and focus instead on plain foods, fresh fruit and veggies. Remember that oral hygiene is high on the priority list too. Antiseptic mouth rinse should be used multiple times per day.
2. Coping with infection
It can be difficult too to avoid all the infection risks when children just want to play with all the other kids, not realising that they have very low immunity as a result of the cancer treatment. Parents need to find ways to keep their child occupied indoors. Come up with fun family activities that you can do at home.
3. Staying positive for your child
It is sometimes hard to stay focused and positive, especially when you don’t get sufficient sleep. Try your best not to show your child when you battle due to the situation. Children have enough to deal with, they should not feel guilty for ‘causing difficult situations’ at home. Children should understand that they did nothing wrong to make them get cancer and they should know that children can be cured of the disease.
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