Interview with Professor Jean Michon, Head of the Department of Pediatric Oncology of Adolescents and Young Adults of Curie (Dopaja), President of RIFHOP, President of the SFCE.
What advice to give parents of a child with cancer? Are there things to say or not to say?
Unfortunately, there is no universal recipe to give to parents of a child with cancer. Because parents do not all have the same reactions to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in their child. These reactions vary greatly depending on each person's personal history, the history of their family, the severity of the child's illness.
Sometimes the parents of a child with low-grade cancer, with a very good chance of healing, are very traumatized. Conversely, there are people who, while facing very serious illnesses, develop an enormous capacity for resilience.
However, if we can not especially give a recipe, it is certain that the reaction of parents affects the child very much, which will be influenced by the psychological storm that they will go through.
How should the disease be reported to the child? What is the role of communication when diagnosing cancer?
The child is followed by a "referring" doctor, and it is up to the doctor to explain the illness and not to the parents. They will not be able to explain the situation to their child, even though they are themselves shocked by the news: they will not be able to take the necessary distance to explain to him the cancer he is going to face in his own body. They themselves may have a transformed vision of their child that they do not "recognize" anymore. The information should at best be given by people who have training and who know the disease, as much as possible in the presence of medical and paramedical personnel who will take care of the child. Thus some points of the information can be resumed by referring to what was said initially.
Announcing the diagnosis of cancer to the parents of a sick child and to the child himself is always very difficult, so it is important to prevent the news from turning into a disaster.
This is done in stages, the doctor goes to see the family several times, accompany him in the path of acceptance of the disease, and then during the treatment.Want to react, share your experience or ask a question? See you in our FORUMS Cancer or A doctor answers you!