Childhood Cancer

Childhood Leukemia

Notifying Your Child’s School

You should notify the principal as soon as possible about your child’s diagnosis. It is a good idea to do this in writing; an example of a notification letter is contained in Chapter 20, School. You can also express your hope that you, the school, and the hospital will work together to ensure that your child’s education has as few interruptions as possible. You may wish to ask the principal to share your letter with the teacher (or multiple teachers) or you can send a separate note. If you want to ask the teacher(s) and students to stay in touch with your child, inform them that she may sometimes feel too tired to answer right away. Personal visits may not be feasible or welcome, at least at first, but cards, letters, pictures, classroom videos, or other updates will make your child feel less isolated and will remind him that there are people who care for him at school. The wishes of teens about notification of school and friends should be respected. Much more information is available in Chapter 20, School.


When I was diagnosed with leukemia, I felt like I was trapped in a room with no windows or doors, and the walls were closing in on me. I thought that I would never be able to smell my grandmother’s hand cream, or feel the way my dad’s face felt in the morning before he shaves, or the way my mom’s silk blouse feels when I hug her. I thought that I would never have the sensation of turning one year older again. I thought that I would never again be able to feel how I feel after it rains, when it smells so fresh and clean like the whole world just took a bath. I thought that I would never be able to taste my first glass of champagne on New Year’s and feel all bubbly and warm like I was flying in a hot-air balloon. And all of a sudden my dream popped, and I realized that this wasn’t a dream, it was reality.

Right now, there are thousands of kids like me across the country who are feeling the same way I felt eight years ago, and I would just like to wish them good luck. Because it’s a long, hard journey full of needles, blood tests, and chemotherapy, but when you finally get to the end, you feel like you’ve been freed after years and years of darkness, and I’ll tell you one thing—that is the greatest feeling you could have.