Survey reveals emotional impacts of childhood cancer on parents
Published on Tuesday, 11th September 2018
Parents of children diagnosed with cancer often struggle with feeling lonely, scared and neglected by those around them, according to a survey carried out for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month this September.
Leading children's cancer charity, Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG), has revealed the results of an online survey to uncover the wider impact of cancer on families.
This comes as part of a major campaign to improve support for parents and carers.
The online survey, which was completed by parents and carers of children diagnosed with cancer, found that 96% of respondents felt lonely or isolated following their child's diagnosis – whilst 79% said they felt left out of normal life.
Issues raised by the survey include how cancer has affected families' way of life and the difficulty of coping with stress and anxiety. Nearly all parents felt overwhelmed and a sense of grief at the loss of 'normal' family life.
The survey highlighted the lack of awareness shown by others on knowing the right and wrong things to say to families affected by a cancer diagnosis.
Nearly half of all respondents rated the statement, "Don't worry, it will all be fine", as the worst thing to say.
When asked how friends and family could help, 93% of respondents suggested keeping in regular contact, while 91% wanted to talk about normal 'non-cancer' topics, and 84% wanted a friendly hug.
Respondents revealed the right things to say, which included "I'm always here for you", "How are you?", and "Do you fancy a coffee?"
As part of the Childhood Cancer Awareness Month campaign, CCLG will launch a Childhood Cancer Emotional Health and Wellbeing Research Fund as well as the #BeAChildCancerFriend social media campaign.
Ashley Gamble, Chief Executive of CCLG, said: 'These results highlight how we need to make sure that parents and carers have access to a full package of emotional and psychological care and support throughout the cancer journey.
'It also shows how friends and family can play a key part in helping families to cope better with this devastating diagnosis and our #BeAChildCancerFriend campaign aims to raise awareness on how help can be given.'
There are around 1,800 new cancer cases in children in the UK every year, around five every day, with leukaemia being the most commonly diagnosed cancer in children. To learn more about CCLG and to find out how you can get involved in Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, please visit the charity's website.