Caring for a Child With Leukemia

July 15, 2021
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Cancer can be an intimidating word. You want the best for your loved ones, so when that particular c-word comes from your pediatrician, it can leave you feeling gutted. But, it’s important to understand that a cancer diagnosis — like leukemia — isn’t the end of your child’s journey. It’s just a new chapter. Your child can still have a joyful and fulfilling life even while they’re going through chemotherapy. From finding moments to laugh to surrounding them with a support system, there are plenty of things you can do to care for your child with leukemia.

What is leukemia?

Leukemia is cancer that impacts your child’s blood-forming tissues — including bone marrow and the lymphatic system. It typically involves the white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infections. In children with leukemia, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells excessively. This causes them to stop functioning properly. There are several types of leukemia, ranging from acute to chronic. Your child’s doctor will be able to diagnose the condition during a physical exam, routine blood test, or bone marrow testing.

6 Tips for Caring for a Child with Leukemia

1. Stay Positive

When the health of your child lies in the hands of doctors, technology, and a little bit of good faith, positivity can be hard to muster up. But, staying positive — especially around your child — can help with their attitude as much as it can help your own. You can even use the opportunity to teach your child about emotions and help them learn how to acknowledge and handle the stronger ones.

It’s likely that your child will be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted from treatment. You’re stressed, and everyone’s emotions will be running rampant. But, by taking moments to step back, laugh, and celebrate the small wins, you can take each day as it comes. And, it can make getting through the experience less traumatic for your child.

2. Set a Routine

Having a routine in place gives us a sense of control and structure. This is essential in your child’s development — especially if they’re dealing with medical conditions that feel a bit more out of their control. Think through different aspects of your lives and see what you can incorporate into your routine to make the time in and out of hospitals feel less disruptive.

Do you read to them before bed? Continue to make that an essential part of your routine. Is Friday night game night in your household? Bring some card games you can easily play from anywhere. By keeping aspects of their regular routine intact, you can make the transition between hospital and home easier.

3. Let Your Kid Be a Kid

Whether your child is an infant or a teenager, their cancer diagnosis shouldn’t stop them from being able to enjoy the little things. It can be easy to become overprotective of your child while they’re receiving treatment, but try to find that balance between being too strict and too flexible.

Let your kid play, laugh, and run around — as is appropriate and cleared by their doctor. Do different activities with your child so that they never feel alone, and schedule visits from friends or family members in between appointments or on days where they’re feeling more rambunctious. This can help support their routine as well or help them maintain relationships while they’re going through treatment.

4. Be Informed

Become familiar with your child’s condition and treatment plan, and keep an organizer so that you can track when their different appointments are. Color coordinate your calendar to make it easier to track optional programs offered by their treatment center.

By joining forums and other support groups, you can find additional information about leukemia and learn from other parents that understand what you’re going through and the emotions you’re facing daily. It can also be helpful to vent to people who know firsthand the challenges you’re dealing with.

5. Take Care of Yourself

As a parent, you dedicate every moment of your time to your child — especially when they’re going through something as difficult as cancer treatment. But, it’s just as important that you’re taking care of yourself too.

Take moments to eat and catch up on sleep. Don’t be afraid to depend on the nurses taking care of your child. You both have the same goal, so you don’t need to oversee their every move to care for your child. Leave it in their hands and take those moments to care for yourself. Your child’s treatment center may also provide classes and programs to help relieve your stress. Take advantage of these programs when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

6. Establish a Support System

The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to do this all alone. Whether it’s leaning on your partner during the tough days or depending on family and friends, find your support system early. By finding people you can depend on, it can make caring for your child easier.

As with using online forums to find additional information about leukemia, you can also integrate your online family into your support system. This can make it easier to vent and talk to people who also know what you’re going through.

Your support system doesn’t have to end once your child is strong enough to come home. Home health care can be a great option for families that have multiple children in the home and for people who feel overwhelmed caring for their child. Home health care nurses can watch your child while you care for your other children, run errands, or take a nap. And, they can help minimize trips to the hospital by providing some care in the comfort of your home.

Contact Care Options for Kids For Pediatric Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of skilled professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you are considering pediatric home health care services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.