Category Archives: Onco Parents

Cancer Caregiver Stress, Depression & Burnout


Being a caregiver for a person with cancer takes its toll on one’s health, and even more so when the person with cancer is your child.

Caregivers of Children with Cancer (usually the mother) are faced with far more stress, as they usually have to give up their job, spend endless hours at their child’s bedside in the hospital – sometimes for weeks or even months at a time, make endless trips to doctors, clinics and hospitals, and still try to be there for the rest of the family. Childhood Cancer unfortunately often ends in divorce, which places even more of a burden on the mother and the stress becomes far worse and can often turn into depression or burnout.

While it is natural to want to stay by your sick child’s side and meet the needs of their siblings and other family members – all at once, this is a virtually impossible task, and unless you give both your mind and your body a break once in a while, you could well end up with caregiver-burnout!

When one continuously cares for others while under tremendous stress, one can begin to feel that you’re in over your head and have little control over the situation – this can cause the stress to begin taking a toll on your health, relationships, and state of mind—eventually leading to burnout.

When you are burned out, it’s tough to do anything, let alone look after your ill child, which is  why taking care of yourself is not a luxury; it is a necessity! There are plenty of things you can do to rein in the stress of caregiving and regain a sense of balance, joy, and hope in your life.

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Foodie Friday: Nutritional e’Pap Recipes


Yesterday we gave you some important information about e’Pap, a revolutionary nutrient-loaded porridge that was created to cater to the feeding needs of HIV patients and babies.

Nutrient content in fruit and vegetables has dropped up to 76% over the past 50 years in the USA and Europe. Proof that modern intensive agriculture practices create the problem. The result is a global crisis of mass starvation of micro-nutrients in communities both rich and poor.

Such is the success of e’Pap in improving nutrition, energy and productivity for those who consume it, that up to two million servings a month of e’Pap are distributed in Africa.

e’Pap could be the answer for Children with Cancer – it is full of vitamins, cheap, and easy-to-make; it does not even require cooking so is suitable for use in even the remotest rural areas.

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Preparing for the Anniversary of a Loved One’s Death


The 12 months following the death of a loved one is known as “the year of firsts” and for obvious reasons, is extremely difficult to get through. Dealing with the first birthday, Christmas, etc. is painful, and does not necessarily equip one to face that dreaded anniversary of the loss.

Grief is a complicated experience, partially because it never truly resolves itself but rather changes over time and meanders along different paths; some difficult and others not so difficult.

Facing the anniversary of a meaningful loss can completely blindside one, even though we know that it is coming and generally anticipate it with dread. Just as with other “stages” of grief, getting through this time can be immensely difficult and there is no right way or wrong way to approach it; the experience is different for each individual.

Every single person will be faced with losses of those we love and admire throughout our lifetime, and the loss of a child is always the worst.

 

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How do I Prepare for My Child’s Death?


The approaching death of a child is likely to be the most difficult time in any parent’s life. Children are supposed to outlive their parents, not the other way around…

Dealing with your child’s cancer is all-consuming; it drains you and the rest of your family – of strength, of vitality, of joy, of finances, and leaves one feeling helpless and hopeless much of the time.

Many parents feel that, even though they have already been given the prognosis and know that their child is dying, to acknowledge it means that they are giving up… Other families feel that they need to get their affairs in order…

Everyone is different and copes in their own way – there is really no right or wrong way to cope with the impending death of a child – you just need to cope in whichever way feels right for you and your family, no matter what anyone else may think or say.

It is often believed that difficult times can bring a family together and make the family unit stronger, but hardships can also create divisions. This sometimes happens if one parent has been more involved in their child’s care, which could mean that they are further along with the various stages of understanding and preparation than the other parent.

Dealing with the trauma of a child with an incurable disease is difficult, and individuals can go through various stages of disbelief, anger, understanding, acceptance and preparation. It is individual though, and does not always occur in the manner that we would expect.

 

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Childhood Cancer & Infertility


Whether your baby, toddler or young child who is currently caught up in the fight of their lives against cancer will eventually be able to have children or not is probably the last thing on your mind, but it may be something that you should take into consideration…

Some cancer treatments do not affect a child’s growing reproductive system, but others can damage a girl’s ovaries, which contain eggs, or a boy’s testes, which contain sperm. This damage may make it impossible to have a baby for a short period after completing cancer therapy or for the rest of the person’s life.

Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy, and other cancer treatments can be very effective at doing their job, but what makes them good at fighting cancer can also cause side effects.

One of the side-effects of cancer treatments can affect the reproductive organs and have long-term effects on a child’s reproductive health. Side effects such as reduced fertility as a result of cancer treatments are known as late effects.

Your child’s risk of having late effects depends on his or her diagnosis, the type of treatment your child is getting, and the dosages. Everyone is different so it’s best to discuss the subject with your child’s medical team.

Your child’s doctor should be able to tell you whether their cancer treatment regimen is likely to have short- or long-term effects on your child’s reproductive health or not.

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How Do I Cope When My Child Has Cancer?


Parents of Children with Cancer have to face the unthinkable – a fight for their child’s life before that child has even had a chance to really live. Watching your child suffer the horrors of treatment in order to have a chance at life is something no parent should ever have to experience.

No matter what problems you think you may have faced; there is nothing as stressful or heartbreaking as having to deal with the fact that your little baby (they are always “your little baby” no matter how old they are) has a deadly disease and may die.

The diagnosis of cancer in a child or teenager can be a devastating blow to parents and other family members. Cancer creates an instant crisis in the family.

We here at the Little Fighters Cancer Trust are all too familiar with the immense amount of emotional, physical, psychological and financial stress that accompany a diagnosis of Childhood Cancer.

We have seen firsthand how some families manage to pull together and become stronger; unfortunately we have also see how families have buckled under the constant pressure and stress, especially the financial stress and shattered apart.

Today’s post will concentrate on giving some advice and support to the parents of Children with Cancer.

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Will my Cancer Come Back?


One of the most common concerns Survivors have is that the cancer will come back – this fear is very real and entirely normal, but although one cannot control whether the cancer returns or not, one can certainly control how much the fear of recurrence affects one’s life.

Cancer is unfortunately not one of those diseases for which there is a cure – there is no cure for cancer!

When an individual has “survived” cancer, they are not cured, but merely in remission because there is never a guarantee that the cancer will not return – either in the same place or even in a completely different part of the body.

Living with the uncertainty about whether the cancer will come back or not is never easy, but one cannot let it get you or your child down or impair your or your child’s life in any way.

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Childhood Cancer Survivorship


Getting cancer is something NOBODY wants, and it is even more tragic when a young soul is diagnosed with cancer. Fighting cancer is a battle that leaves many scars, not all of them physical…

Those who have survived cancer are often left with a different appreciation of life, even children who have not yet lived much of theirs.

Survivors can also, however, become very anxious about their health; about whether the cancer will return; about the visits to the doctor for the next how many ever years, and then when the regular visits stop.

Another problem is that unless you have had cancer or have cared for someone who has survived cancer, there is NO WAY you can understand what a cancer Survivor goes through for the rest of their life! Most people seem to think that having cancer is a temporary situation and that once you are through the treatments it means that you are cured and life should just continue as per normal – this is FAR from the truth!

Cancer is in effect a revolving door, and at any moment a scan could land a Survivor right back in the territory of Active Cancer Treatment

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Helen’s Story – Retinoblastoma Part 2


 

Helen 2nd birthday mickey mouse party

Hey There,

Helen and mommy Siobahn here again – today we are going to continue with “Helen’s Story” because we want everyone out there to know about Childhood Cancer and about my cancer, Retinoblastoma.

Now that the problem had been diagnosed as Retinoblastoma, things moved along very quickly. The diagnosis was made on the Thursday and the operation to remove the eye was scheduled for the next Monday.

Helen underwent an MRI Scan as well as a Lumbar Puncture in order to determine whether cancer was present anywhere else in Helen’s body. Fortunately all tests came back negative and it was determined that the cancer was confined to Helen’s left eye.

Helen underwent surgery to remove the eye and she and mommy stayed overnight in ICU and in the normal Paediatric ward the next night, during which time Helen she had a plaster over her eye. The plaster was removed before she went home the next day and replaced by a transparent shield to prevent infection and was removed two weeks later.

A ball implant was inserted into the empty eye socket and Helen currently wears nothing over the eye  – she will get a prosthesis when she is a little bit older and able to handle the hygiene it requires (toddlers tend to play in the sand or touch unhygienic toys etc. and then rub their eyes).

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Helen’s Story – Retinoblastoma Part 1


 

Helen 7 months old

Hi,

my name is Helen and my mommy and I would like to share my story with you so that more people can get to know about Childhood Cancer; in this case specifically Retinoblastoma.

Retinoblastoma is a type of eye cancer that develops in the light-sensitive lining of the eye, called the retina, and can occur at any age but mainly occurs in children younger than 5 years of age and most often in those younger than 2.

Retinoblastoma may occur in one or both eyes, but rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Although it is the most common eye tumour in children, it is a rare childhood cancer and accounts for about 3-4% of childhood cancers.

The main challenge of treating Retinoblastoma is the prevention of blindness, however approximately 98% of children with retinoblastoma are cured.

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Foodie Friday: Healthy Vegetarian/Vegan Meals


foodiefriday-wp-logoA diagnosis of cancer and subsequent treatment can result in irregular food and fluid intake, weight loss, and nutritional deficiencies. There is frequently an increased need for calories and protein while there is usually a decreased appetite.

Chemotherapy, for example, works by killing or disabling cancer cells. Unfortunately, this targets not only the tumour, but some healthy tissues as well, including the lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

While some of these drugs produce only mild side effects, others can pack a wallop. The effects of radiation therapy can be similar to those of chemotherapy, but these are usually related to the part of the body that is being treated. This means that radiation to the head, neck, chest, and abdomen can result in a lot of GI distress.

Side Effects That Cancer Patients Experience

  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Open, sore areas in the mouth and/or throat
  • Loss or change of taste perception
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Feeling of fullness after eating or drinking very small portions

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10 Portions of Fruit &Veg Daily Best for Health


fruits-and-vegetables-smAccording to most doctors and nutritionists, eating five portions of fruits and vegetables daily is considered sufficient for good health, but a recent study, reported in the International Journal of Epidemiology,  posits that the greatest benefits come from eating 10 portions a day.

An analysis of 95 studies assessing the health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption have led researchers to believe that eating 800 grams (around 10 portions of 80 grams) of fruits and vegetables daily was associated with the lowest risk of disease and premature death.

One portion of fruits of vegetables was defined as 80 grams – the equivalent to a small banana, pear, or apple, or three heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables, such as peas, broccoli, or cauliflower.

The study, undertaken by Lead author Dr. Dagfinn Aune, of the School of Public Health at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, and colleagues, took into consideration 95 studies that involved almost 2 million participants and around 43,000 cases of heart disease, 47,000 cases of stroke, 81,000 cases of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and 94,000 deaths.

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How To: Boost Your Child with Cancer’s Mood


children-dancing-smallJust the mere word “cancer” is enough to send most people into a fit of depression, and this is no different for a child.

A diagnosis of cancer, together with the treatments such as Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy, the pain, nausea, hair loss, anaemia, and the constant hospital visits or having to stay indoors and not have friends around or go to school due to an impaired immune system can get anyone down and moody.

Childhood cancer is vile, despicable, wretched, depressing, demoralising, and soul-wrenching, and the best thing that you can do for your Little Fighter is to help them feel better by boosting their mood.

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Foodie Friday: Pasta, Kebabs & Power Bombs


foodiefriday-wp-logoWOW! Can you believe that another week has flown past and it is once again Foodie Friday? We hope that you have all had a great, healthy and fun-filled week and that all our Little Fighters are feeling strong!

As we all know, Children with Cancer often struggle to eat due to problems with their mouths or throats due to their treatment, or because cancer treatment makes one nauseous and takes away the appetite.

Eating well and getting sufficient nutrition, however, is paramount in building up their immune systems and in helping them to maintain their weight and fight the cancer

Here are some more tasty, healthy recipes that we hope that you and your Little Fighter will enjoy making and eating…

 

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Healthy Smoothie Recipes for Children with Cancer


foodiefriday-wp-logoDoctors have yet to find a definitive link between cancer and food. What they have found, however, is a correlation between certain diets — such as the Mediterranean Diet — and the potential for cancer reduction. Doctors call these diets (often specific to a culture or geographical region) anti-angiogenic, which means that they cut off the blood supply of cancerous tumours, starving them of the nutrients they need to grow.

An easy way to ensure that your Child with Cancer gets sufficient vitamins and nutrition when they find it difficult to eat due to cancer treatments is to make them some delicious cancer-beating smoothies to drink using fruit and veg that have cancer-fighting properties in them

Smoothies have gotten a bad rap in the past for being sugar-laden and more closely resembling dessert than anything remotely healthy, but while that might be true for smoothies purchased at juice shops or in restaurants, you can make healthy smoothie recipes right at home for a fraction of the price in just minutes.

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