Childhood cancers are rare and represent less than 1 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. every year. However, when a child is diagnosed with cancer, it can be hard for parents, families and loved ones to know what to do — and how best to support children and teens undergoing cancer treatments.
There are a number of direct, local, regional and national support services and pediatric cancer resources geared toward supporting Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children's patients and their families, ranging from wish-granting to needs based organizations. The needs-based organizations help with everything from the cost of medical treatment and medication to basic living needs, like rent and grocery assistance. Because the eligibility criteria varies so drastically between them, the best way to determine if your child qualifies for support is to speak to your social worker directly about assistance. Through a continuum of care, the in-patient and out-patient social work teams continue to follow these oncology patients through the course of their treatment.
Child Life Specialists Offer Support For Children With Cancer
Families with cancer can find support through Child Life Specialists who offer support for families and child patients during nearly every stage of the treatment process. Child Life Specialists provide activities for normalization of the hospital environment during both inpatient and outpatient visits.
For children and teenagers undergoing cancer treatment, normalization involves utilizing arts and crafts, movies, games and other activities to help 'normalize' the hospital environment. Child Life Specialists also engage patients in 'distraction' techniques, which help to minimize stress and anxiety during treatments and patient visits.
For families, parents, siblings and loved ones who have a child or teen with cancer or a blood disorder, the treatment process can be difficult and emotional. Child Life Specialists work with parents, siblings and patients to help facilitate positive coping techniques and also educate families in regards to diagnosis, hospitalization and treatment. Additionally, these specialists coordinate with community organizations that provide resources for therapeutic activities to help patients and families cope with treatments.
National Pediatric Cancer Resources
National pediatric cancer support resources and services include the following:
- The American Cancer Society is a great resource for information, statistics and facts about childhood cancers.
- The American Brain Tumor Association funds brain tumor research and provides information and education about all types of brain tumors, including brain tumors and cancers that develop in children.
- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society advocates public policy decisions that impact patients with leukemia, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma. The organization also offers support groups, peer-to-peer support, information specialists and a patient community for children and adults with these diseases.
Local Denver-area and Colorado resources
For residents in the Rocky Mountain region, the Denver metro and throughout Colorado, there are multiple services and organizations in the state that offer support for families with cancer:
- Rocky Mountain Cancer Assistance is a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to low-income cancer patients (and their families) in Colorado for household expenses, such as rent, mortgage payments, car payments, car insurance and health insurance.
- The Colorado Cancer Coalition seeks to reduce the risk, incidence and mortality associated with cancer in Colorado. The organization is involved with many events and support groups for families and children with cancer across the state.
- The Colorado Kids Cancer Association is a group of organizations that provide support for children with cancer and their families. Services include connecting families with support groups, assisting with housing solutions for out-of-state patients and helping parents find camps for kids with cancer.
A Pediatric Cancer Center Committed To Quality Care
Along with Child Life Specialists, Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children has large team of board-certified pediatric oncologists/hematologists, pathologists, radiologists, nurses and social workers that are all devoted to providing the best possible care and treatment for children of all ages, from infants to young adults. Together, the physicians and staff at Rocky Mountain Hospital provide high-quality and comprehensive treatment and support for children with cancer.
For more information on pediatric cancer resources and support for families with cancer, talk to your child's doctor or pediatrician. For families, parents and loved ones with a child or teen who has been diagnosed with cancer or a blood disorder, there are a wealth of local, regional and national resources available to help.