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It's Already the Hardest Job in the World.

Then a cancer diagnosis is thrown into the mix and the entire parenting universe changes.

In these pages, you will hear from parents who have been through it, what worked for them and what didn’t, the books, resources, and tips to make it through.

The best advice I received

For me, the best advice I got was from our amazing Nurse Practitioner Renee Recher. After observing me giving in to a whining McKenna during an infusion (to be fair, I gave in because I needed McKenna to be quiet so I could actually HEAR Renee), she looked at me and said:

“I have seen children leave here and end up in jail”

She explained that she has sat with countless parents, grandparents, and caregivers and watched as they completely suspended discipline while their child was on treatment, and was never able to get it back.

We do a lot to make our kids as comfortable as possible while undergoing treatment, rules on screen time, junk food, and even tooth brushing go out the window when your three-year-old is attached to an IV pole in isolation for 11 days (speaking from experience).

But we do our children a great disservice when we eliminate rules completely and permanently for the duration of treatment, we rob them of the last vestige of normal.

"Normal" kids don't go to the clinic

“Normal” kids don’t have to go to the clinic, get countless IV pokes, and lose their hair. They also don’t get wish trips, hordes of sympathetic adults hovering, or constant access to sweets that make those visits bearable. It is a lot to cope with as a kid, the extremes of experiencing pain and patience at too young an age while also becoming a princess or super-hero and receiving constant praise and recognition for something that’s not within their control or necessarily due to their effort.

Treating them as normal as possible includes discipline.

It seems heartless to ask you as a caregiver to do one more thing beyond everything you are already doing to keep your child safe and healthy, but if I could offer one more piece of advice on something crucial to your child’s overall wellbeing, its this. Treating them as normally as possible includes discipline. Set boundaries, loosen rules as needed but establish clear lines between what rules get bent only at the clinic and only when inpatient. It is possible to allow for steroid week cravings without totally abandoning the household rules of healthy eating, but there should be rules and the whole family should be aware and able to understand them. Keeping discipline generally uniform will also help with any sibling rivalry or temptation to give into siblings to compensate for the excess attention. Decide what your family thinks is fair, be as flexible as necessary, and you will have a much easier transition back to normal.

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