Years old 18 months after my relapse

Sports day dawns bright and sunny. I sit with my friends waiting for my kids' races. Last week my scans were clear - no cancer anywhere. Today I am celebrating with my friends so our ice-box contains strawberries and a bottle of wine. I overhear a bored dad saying, 'I hate sports day, don't you?' Immediately I think back to last year when my cancer was at its worst and I sat through sports day crying for the children I might not see grow up. But now things are different and I am 'all-clear'. Today, the sun seems hotter, the grass greener and the cries of happy children never more joyful. Today, sports day seems the most wonderful occasion ever and I laugh out loud when I see Adam jumping his way to third place. Winning Olympic gold could not beat this! Today I make a promise to myself: I shall never miss another sports day or any of my children's precious days. I shall aim for every sports day and remember my survival on this day. This year - this sports day - I am seeing my children grow a little older. 'Come on,' I say to my friends, 'third place - let's celebrate!'

Survivors usually reach the point where they need and want to tell their children something about their previous cancer experience. This may be precipitated by a relapse with need for further treatment, curiosity about hospital appointment attendance, residual physical disability, scars, or an awareness of heightened parental anxiety. I am not aware of any research that has looked at the attitudes or difficulties experienced by survivors reaching this stage of survivorship: the first large cohort of parenting survivors has only just 'come of age'. The amount of information a child needs and desires will depend upon their age, personality and development. A five-year-old child's understanding of illness and the anxiety surrounding it is very different from that of a 12-year-old. A younger child will see illness in terms of separation from a parent, whereas an older child will have developed a more abstract form of thinking with a deeper understanding that illness may result in death. This may produce a higher level of emotional distress. In the same way as a cancer survivor develops and matures in their understanding of cancer, so too do the offspring of survivors.

Cancer is like no other illness in that the word itself evokes fears of extreme suffering and premature death. Children may hear parents or friends talking about cancer in negative ways, resulting in wrong perceptions. Most children's experiences of cancer will be witnessed in grandparents or elderly neighbours who may well have had a debilitating illness or died. This can provoke extreme fear in children extrapolating the experience and applying it to a parent. The child may communicate this to the parent or may present with behavioural difficulties or regressive patterns such as bedwetting. It is important to use simple and honest explanation, using words, information and images in keeping with the child's age. Withholding information or giving incorrect information may lead to mistrust and subsequent emotional difficulty.

Conquering Fear In The 21th Century

Conquering Fear In The 21th Century

The Ultimate Guide To Overcoming Fear And Getting Breakthroughs. Fear is without doubt among the strongest and most influential emotional responses we have, and it may act as both a protective and destructive force depending upon the situation.

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