Monday, September 17, 2012
Cancer: A Family Affair
It is said that when a child has cancer, the entire family has cancer. In many ways, childhood cancer affects the siblings, parents, extended relatives and friends.
Studies have shown that within two weeks of diagnosis, parents show post traumatic stress syptoms, including anxiety, nightmares and sleeplessness.
Patients show a higher risk for behavoiral and emotional problems after treatment, including depression, anxiety and Post Traumatic stress symptoms. Even toddlers have shown an increased risk for post traumatic stress syptoms, with the increase being seen signifigantly in kids as young as 18 months.
Siblings too, are affected by treatment of their brother or sister. Younger siblings have shown to have more external syptoms, including agression/ behavioral problems, and trouble in school, while older siblings tend to have more inward syptoms, indluding anxiety and depression. Adolescent girls are the group at highest risk, both in patients and siblings.
Childhood cancer will never be a lone person battling cancer. Every child has parents that care for them, and often siblings who still live at home. This family is much different than that of the average adult cancer patient (average age: about 65).
But kids are more resiliant than adults. They tolerate more, and, given the right treatment, can overcome emotional problems. There is hope. To fully treat cancer, we can't just give chemo and call it good. We need comprehensive treatments, from diagnosis to remission and recovery.