Childhood Cancer

The anesthesiologist is a key member of the surgical team. It is her responsibility to ensure that the child is properly anesthetized and monitored during the operation. Prior to the surgery, you will have a consultation with the anesthesiologist, during which she will ask you about your child’s medical history and any allergies to medications. Take this opportunity to ask any questions you have or to express concerns. For instance, if your child is very frightened, ask the anesthesiologist if she could prescribe a pre-surgical sedative.

The following is a list of questions you can ask the anesthesiologist before the surgery:

  • How will my child be put to sleep (mask or intravenous medication)?
  • Will my child be sedated prior to the operation?
  • What are the common side effects of the anesthesia drugs?

Surgery was a scary time for me. My mother and sister don’t do very well under anesthesia, and we were afraid that Sean might react badly to it also. Sean did very well and came through the procedure without any complications.

  • Will I be able to stay with my child until he is anesthetized?

For our son’s brain surgery, we weren’t able to attend the hospital’s children’s tour for surgery, and he wasn’t that well-prepared. But, we had a great experience for his port insertion at our local tertiary care center. We were invited to attend an evening tour of an operating room by Maureen, from Child Life. Our son sat in a circle with other kids while the whole anesthesia process was explained. They all tried on masks and practiced breathing deeply. On the day of surgery, the anesthesiologist spent time talking to our son. My husband, Jim, suited up in scrubs, our son was presedated, and they went off together down the hall to the O.R. chatting with the anesthesiologist.

  • Will my child need to remain on a ventilator afterwards? For how long?

You will be asked to sign a consent form prior to the administration of any anesthesia. The anesthesiologist will answer any questions or concerns you might have and may explain some of the ways children can react when coming out of anesthesia.

Anesthesia recovery is horrible for my son. He stands, hits, screams, cries, tries to leave, refuses to leave, you name it. Or rather, I should say his body does these things. The thinking part of him is still anesthetized or dealing with a whopper of a headache. Eventually I get my son back.


Brendon has been in and out of treatment for the last 10 years. He’s had numerous surgeries, radiation, and chemo. When he was little he was sedated for all of his scans. I can’t count the number of times he’s been anesthetized. And he never had a problem. He bounces right back so easily each time. I think that it helps that he is always joking with the staff and thinking up funny pranks.