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Resources

Childhood cancer: Managing strong emotions

Receiving a test result, reaching a new milestone or making a change in your child’s treatment can all bring about strong emotions, both positive and negative.

These emotional responses will be unique to you. Even within the same family, there can be big differences in what each person feels.

Similarly, everyone has their own ways of managing strong emotions. Some people are comfortable sharing feelings with others, while others are more private. And, just as every parent has their own ways of managing emotions, everyone has their own strengths to draw on when emotions are at their peak.

Below are some strategies for managing strong emotions that parents have shared with us. You may wish to explore these when the time is right. If you have thoughts on what’s worked for you, we’d love to hear from you the comments below.

We need to look after ourselves before taking care of others. But even parents who know how true this is can find that taking care of their own needs throughout diagnosis and treatment isn’t easy.

For many parents, self-care means doing small things to make each day slightly easier. Taking time for yourself could include simple things like:

  • getting extra sleep when possible
  • eating nourishing food—some parents reach out to others to help with cooking during particularly busy periods
  • going for short walks to spend time in nature
  • writing down worries and fears
  • trying mindfulness exercises

Another strategy some parents use to manage strong emotions is focusing on something besides their child’s treatment. Taking your focus off your child may feel impossible at times, but engaging in a separate activity can be a way to shift your thoughts, giving you relief from worry and helping you recharge.

One minute you’re really upset, then you’ve got one doctor going one way, another doctor doing this test, your head’s spinning
Ryan

“watching funny movies to take my mind off the heaviness that is our reality” – Simone

One of the positive things many parents have shared with us about their child’s diagnosis and treatment is the support they received from family and friends. In some cases, this support came from people they didn’t expect.

Reaching out for help takes strength. For some parents, it’s difficult to ask others to share the load. It can help to remember that when you allow other people to give practical or emotional support, this is often a positive moment in their own lives.

It’s a big gift to let someone care for you, because their attention is off them
Stephen

Throughout your child’s treatment, you’ll meet a range of professionals who can work with you on practical issues, along with your emotional wellbeing. A Redkite social worker is one of these professionals, and they can talk with you about ways to manage strong emotions. They may be based at your hospital, or you can get in touch with them by phone or email.

Guided by you, your Redkite social worker can work with you on areas including:

  • drawing on the strengths, support and resources you have around you
  • developing your advocacy skills as you support your child through treatment
  • communicating with medical professionals
  • managing treatment alongside work, family and your own wellbeing
  • finding practical support, such as financial assistance
  • connecting with support groups where you can talk with parents in similar situations.

Organising
29th Sep

Making your hospital stay more comfortable: what other parents say

Having to stay in hospital can bring about different challenges. Parents have shared some tips to help you feel more comfortable and to seek support you might need.

Making your hospital stay more comfortable: what other parents say

Having to stay in hospital can bring about different challenges. Parents have shared some tips to help you feel more comfortable and to seek support you might need.

Relationships
2nd Sep

Other childhood cancer support services

A list of childhood cancer support services in Australia

Other childhood cancer support services

A list of childhood cancer support services in Australia

Organising
1st Oct

Budgeting during treatment

Many people find cancer brings extra financial demands. Often income decreases while expenses increase.

Budgeting during treatment

Many people find cancer brings extra financial demands. Often income decreases while expenses increase.

Adult mum and daughter hugging

Relationships
30th Sep

Managing family relationships

Going through cancer treatment can lead to some very positive experiences in relationships, but the stress can also cause immense strain.

Managing family relationships

Going through cancer treatment can lead to some very positive experiences in relationships, but the stress can also cause immense strain.