Helping Children Cope with a Parent’s Cancer

Cancer Support.
Cancer Support.

When a parent is diagnosed with cancer, moms and dads struggle with what, when and how much to tell their children. Immediately after diagnosis, parents are understandably struggling to educate themselves, cope with their own emotions and make cancer treatment decisions. Until they have had a chance to assimilate the diagnosis and all it entails, they may make not feel ready to discuss cancer with their children. Many parents feel a need to have some level of certainty about what will happen before trying to answer their children’s questions.

Unfortunately, there are few certainties when it comes to cancer. Individual response to cancer treatments allows for a range of possible outcomes. While statistics allow oncologists to tell their patients what is most likely to happen, your own cancer experience many not follow the normal pattern. While the desire to wait until your know what is going to happen is understandable, with cancer it is an unachievable goal.

Trying to shield your children by failing to discuss cancer may only make them worry more. Even very young children are surprisingly attuned to the normal rhythms of family life. Cancer disrupts those rhythms and children are quick to notice. Giving children an explanation for the changes cancer brings to family life and a parent’s health prevent children from imaging all kinds of horrible things or feeling guilt that they may have caused the problem.

Bringing cancer into the open allows children to express their fears and talk about their feelings. Even when there are no firm answers to their questions, being able to talk openly about what is happening in the family can be immensely reassuring to children.

You can find information about discussing cancer with your children at the American Cancer Society and Helping Children Cope.


Young Adults Have Higher Risk of Oral Cancer

Fight Oral Cancer
Fight Oral Cancer

Once considered an old man’s disease, oral cancer is making a comeback; only this time it’s targeting young adults. Oral cancer is now the sixth most common cancer among young adults in their 20s and 30s. More than 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. Oral cancer kills  one person every hour. More than 8,000 Americans will die from oral cancer this year alone. Even more frightening, only 57% of people diagnosed with oral cancer live past 5 years.

Oral cancer has a higher death rate than most cancers because it is difficult to detect, often fails to produce noticeable symptoms and is, therefore, usually not discovered until it has metastasized to a secondary location, typically the lymph nodes. The lag time between infection and discovery allows oral cancer to invade other local structures, resulting in additional forms of cancer. The risk of producing primary tumors at a second site is 20 times higher for oral cancer patients.

Oral cancer causes squamous cell carcinomas in 90% of cases. There are several reasons oral cancer has begun to attack people under 40.

  • The war against smoking has made chewing smokeless tobacco popular with young men and women. Marketed as a safe alternative to smoking, it may reduce lung cancer but is a leading cause of oral and pancreatic cancer.
  • Human papilloma virus No. 16 is the leading cause of oral cancer. Sexually transmitted between partners, it is also a leading cause of cervical cancer.

Alternative cancer treatments developed by Issels Integrative Oncology offer new hope for people with oral cancer.