Most children’s hospitals and treatment centers have many specialists on the cancer care team who help support kids and their families.
Some are there as long as you need them, even after treatment ends. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help. You and your child are part of the team, too.
Oncology Social Worker
When your child has cancer, you have a lot to think about and do. An oncology social worker can take on some of these tasks, or connect you with others who can help.
They can make sure you get:
- Financial support
- Rides to treatment
- Child care
Your social worker acts as a go-between with other members of your care team. They also serve as a strong advocate for you and your child.
Child Life Specialist
These people have extra training so they can meet the special needs of kids in the hospital. They explain each test and treatment your child will have in language your child can understand. They may even walk them through a procedure beforehand or use a teaching doll so it’s not as scary. On the flip side, they have lots of fun ways to distract kids, keep them active, and ease stress and anxiety. If your child is a teen, your child life specialist will also try to make sure your kid has a social life.
These people also work closely with the social worker and psychologist on your care team.
They make sure your child can keep learning during their cancer treatment. They can arrange for your child to attend a hospital school or public school, part-time. If your child’s homebound, they may be able to have a teacher come to your house free of charge.
Keeping your child connected to school and learning is a key part of their care.
Kids with cancer can have a tough time getting enough nutrients for their growth. They may lose their sense of taste or be too upset to eat. Treatments like radiation and chemo can steal your child’s appetite, too.
That’s where dietitians come in. They’re experts in food and nutrition and can help your child get the nourishment they need.
Psychologists are professionals who help people manage their problems and feelings. The one on your child’s care team has special training in cancer. Your child can talk to them about what it’s like to be sick. And if your child is scared, sad, or anxious, the psychologist can reassure them and help them deal with these feelings.
Psychologists can also help with school issues and teach your child ways to make painful tests and treatments easier to get through. They may support your child’s return to normal life after treatment, too.
Chaplain or Spiritual Counselor
This is someone who cares for the spiritual needs of kids and their families. They have a degree in religious studies and special training on how to care for people who are sick. They can work with your minister or pastor so you get the kind of help you want.