Today, Wednesday 15th February is with International Childhood Cancer Day. Professor Dr. Norbert Graf, medical director of the Department for Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Saarland University Hospital, reminds us of the needs of children and families with cancer and the importance of providing an integrated care response.
The life of a child with cancer is a journey filled with challenges and hardships. The diagnosis of cancer in a child can have a profound impact on the entire family and everyone involved. The child with cancer faces a range of physical, emotional, and psychological difficulties, and it is essential that they receive support and care to help them overcome these obstacles. Integrated care for children with cancer is a holistic approach that recognizes the complex needs of these patients. Integrated care is designed to provide children with cancer with the medical, emotional, and psychological support they need to cope with their illness and make a full recovery.
One of the biggest challenges for a child with cancer is the physical toll of treatment. Children with cancer often require surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other treatments to combat the disease. These treatments can be extremely painful and can cause a range of side effects, including nausea, fatigue, and hair loss. Despite the physical discomfort, children with cancer are often incredibly brave and resilient, showing remarkable courage and determination in the face of their illness.
The emotional toll of cancer is also significant for children. Children with cancer may feel scared, sad, angry, or confused about their diagnosis and the changes it brings to their life. They may worry about their future and the impact that their illness will have on their family and friends. Children with cancer often feel isolated and alone, as they may have to spend long periods of time in hospital and may miss out on important social activities and events. It is essential that children with cancer receive emotional support and care to help them navigate their feelings and cope with the difficulties of their situation.
In addition to the physical and emotional challenges, children with cancer may also face psychological difficulties. They may struggle with feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth, and may feel overwhelmed by the challenges that their illness presents. Children with cancer may also experience feelings of depression and anxiety, which can have a significant impact on their overall well-being.
From an integrated care perspective, children with cancer are not just patients, but they are also children who have unique developmental needs and require specialized care. Integrated care focuses on addressing the needs of the whole child, rather than just the cancer itself. This approach recognizes that children with cancer face a range of physical, emotional, and psychological challenges and provides them with the care and support they need to overcome these obstacles.
Integrated care involves the collaboration of various healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and others. This team-based approach ensures that children with cancer receive comprehensive care that addresses all of their needs. For example, the medical team may provide treatments to combat the cancer, while the psychological team may provide counseling and support to help the child and family cope with the emotional toll of the illness.
Integrated care also recognizes the important role that families play in the care and recovery of children with cancer. Family members are often instrumental in providing support, comfort, and advocacy for their loved one, and integrated care seeks to engage families as active participants in the care process.
Despite the many challenges that children with cancer face, it is important to remember that they are also incredibly resilient and capable of overcoming their difficulties. With the right support and care, children with cancer can make a full recovery and go on to lead happy and fulfilling lives.
In conclusion, integrated care is an important approach to treating children with cancer that recognizes the complex needs of these patients. Integrated care focuses on addressing the needs of the whole child, involving a team of healthcare professionals and engaging families as active participants in the care process. This holistic approach ensures that children with cancer receive the medical, emotional, and psychological support they need to cope with their illness and make a full recovery.
Professor Dr. Norbert Graf
Department for Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Saarland University Hospital