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Finding Ways to Cope and Stay Strong

Asking for support from others may not be easy. This section has practical advice to guide you to the help you may need during this difficult time. Staying emotionally and physically healthy can enable you to tackle the many tasks surrounding your child’s treatment.

“Being strong meant learning to rely on others. I found that friends wanted to be there for our family. All I needed to do was ask. I also met with a counselor who gave me insights and listened in ways that friends could not.”

Getting help and support from others

Research shows what you most likely already know—help from others strengthens and encourages your child and family. Let others help during this difficult time. Family and friends may want to assist, but might not know what you need. You may want to:

  • Take the first step. Let family, friends, and coworkers know about your child’s cancer and treatment. Share only what you feel comfortable sharing.
  • Tell people how they can help. Keep a list of things that others can do for your family. For example, people can cook, clean, shop, or drive siblings to their activities.
  • Find an easy way to update family and friends. You may want to use a social media site or a site such as CarePages, Caring Bridge, My Cancer Circle, or MyLifeLine.org to update people and ask for practical help. Other sites, such as Lotsa Helping Hands, make it easier to organize help from people in your community.

“My neighbor Liz is a gem. She posted updates for our friends about Calvin’s progress. She also helped friends make posters to decorate our son’s room.”

Getting professional help

If you are not sleeping well, are often in a depressed mood, or feel irritable or anxious, talk with your primary care doctor. Your doctor can give you the names of health care professionals who can help you, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, family therapist, or social worker. Some parents find that it helps to talk with a leader in their spiritual community.

“I’m not the kind of person who seeks outside help. But, I was feeling so overwhelmed that I knew it was time to see a counselor to get my stress under control. Getting advice from a trained specialist really helped me get through this difficult time.”

Getting professional help

If you are not sleeping well, are often in a depressed mood, or feel irritable or anxious, talk with your primary care doctor. Your doctor can give you the names of health care professionals who can help you, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, family therapist, or social worker. Some parents find that it helps to talk with a leader in their spiritual community.

“I’m not the kind of person who seeks outside help. But, I was feeling so overwhelmed that I knew it was time to see a counselor to get my stress under control. Getting advice from a trained specialist really helped me get through this difficult time.”

Joining a support group

Some support groups meet in person, whereas others meet online. Many parents benefit from the experiences and information shared in these groups. Some parents find online message boards helpful.

“My wife and I knew we couldn’t tackle this alone. We met with a support group for parents of children with cancer. Our group brings in experts, and we learn what has helped others. We’re also able to post messages to an online support community that’s been helpful.”

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