Childhood Cancer

Childhood Leukemia

Chapter 20: School

“Most of us had two feelings at the same time: wanting to go back to school and being scared of going back.”

— Eleven children with cancer
There Is a Rainbow Behind Every Dark Cloud

CHILDREN AND TEENS WITH LEUKEMIA have disruptions in their education because of frequent hospitalizations and side effects from the disease or treatment. As their health improves and their treatment schedule allows, returning to school can be a relief or a challenge.

For many children, school is a refuge from the world of hospitals and procedures—a place for fun, friendship, and learning. School is the defining structure of children’s daily lives and returning to school can signal hope for the future and a return to normalcy. Some children and teens, however, may dread returning to school because of temporary or permanent changes to their appearance or concerns that prolonged absences may have changed their social standing with friends.

In addition, physical limitations caused by cancer treatment may prevent children from participating in games, physical education class, athletics, or other activities. These physical impairments sometimes require time out from the regular classroom for physical or occupational therapy. School can also become a major source of frustration for children who learn differently because of treatment.

Although educating children who have or had cancer can be a complex process, many challenges can be successfully managed through careful planning and good communication. This chapter covers ways to work with the school during and after treatment. It also includes information about avoiding communicable illnesses at school and getting any help your child needs to learn.