Childhood Cancer

As soon as possible after admission, ask for a floor tour. Find out if a microwave and refrigerator are available, learn what the approved parent sleeping arrangements are, and ask about showers and bathtubs for both patients and parents. Ask about available laundry facilities. Obtain a hospital handbook if one is available. These booklets often include information about billing, parking, discounts, and other helpful items.

Either my husband or I stayed with Delaney the entire time she was in the hospital. To improve the comfort of the fold-out chair that the hospital provides for the sleep-in parent, we used a self-inflating camping mat. When it is rolled out, it self-inflates with a one-way valve. The straps can be used to secure it to the vinyl chair. It makes the chair much more comfortable and allows your muscles to relax. When it is not in use, it can be rolled up with straps and set in the corner.

Many children’s hospitals have in-room or portable DVD players available. You can sign out DVDs from the hospital media library or bring from home a favorite funny movie or DVD of a TV show. Humor helps, so joke books and things that make kids laugh (such as Silly String®) are great items to pack. Most hospitals have wireless Internet for connection to social media for older children and adolescents. This keeps them connected to their friends at home and also provides a way to stream movies and other videos for children of all ages.

A friend brought in a bag from the local dime store. He included a water pistol (good for unwelcome visitors or unfriendly interns), Play-Doh®, a Slinky®, checkers, dominos, bubbles, a book of corny jokes, and puzzles.

Although many hospitals provide brightly colored smocks for young patients, most children and teens prefer to wear their own clothing if at all possible. This can pose a laundry problem, so find out whether the hospital has laundry facilities for families to use.