Childhood Cancer

Begin planning your child’s hospitalization as soon as you find out that it is necessary. Even a brief hospital stay can be physically draining and emotionally difficult, so take time before the visit to prepare your child and the rest of your family.

  • Arrange care for your other children. This should be with someone they know and like who can help the siblings carry on with their normal routine (school, music lessons, sports). Also, child care should be flexible in case you need to stay longer than planned at the hospital.
  • Plan how you will keep your household functioning. Find a friend or neighbor to feed animals, water the plants, and pick up mail.
  • Take time off work and notify your child’s school. If the hospitalization might be lengthy, read Chapter 15 for ways to work with your child’s school.
  • Make a list of the names and telephone numbers of people you can call on for help. Consider designating one person to call family members and friends to share news, coordinate food, or baby-sit.
  • Pack ahead of time. Your child might want to help choose which clothes, toys, and books to take to the hospital. You can use the Packing List in the back of this book to figure out what to bring.
  • Plan how you will prepare your child and her siblings for the visit. Consider whether your child might be comforted by a hospital tour, a talk with the doctor, or a chat with other children who have undergone similar treatment. You might visit your local library or the hospital library to find books about your child’s illness or injury or about hospital stays. The Resources section in the back of this book contains suggested reading.

My daughter has been hospitalized twice to control her seizures. To prepare, I went to the library and took out every book they had on seizure disorders. I asked the neurologist if he had any books to recommend. Then I went to the school nurse and asked her to give other parents of children who had seizures my name and telephone number. I contacted the Epilepsy Foundation and they sent loads of literature plus a list of people to contact. Talking to the other parents and reading books really helped us plan for hospitalizations.