Cancer and Parenting: Tips for Patients with Young Children


Sabina Borza
Sabina Borza

About the author: Sabina Borza is a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor. She discovered a mass during the third trimester of her pregnancy and underwent chemotherapy and radiation shortly after giving birth.

Dealing with a cancer diagnosis and the subsequent treatment is a challenge in itself, but parenting young children at the same time poses a unique set of challenges and concerns.

When I was going through treatment while raising my newborn daughter, I had many questions, including, “how am I going to do this?!” Here are a few tips that were helpful to me and some important topics to discuss with your doctors.

Say “yes” to help.

Many people will want to do what they can to make life easier for you but they probably don’t know how. Take them up on their offers and let them know exactly how they can help! Cooking meals, babysitting, and taking your children or you to appointments can be a huge help at this hectic time. If it is too overwhelming for you to coordinate, ask someone close to you to handle this.

Find out how your treatment and follow up will affect interactions with your children.

For example, depending on your child’s age, you may need to avoid holding or being close to them following PET, MUGA, or other scans involving radioactive materials. Always ask your doctors how your treatments, medications, etc., could affect your young children, discuss any alternatives, and then plan accordingly.

Discuss vaccinations.

Speak with your oncologist and pediatrician about vaccines your child will receive. In some cases, you might delay or decide not to vaccine your child with any live vaccines as this might affect your health.

Avoid germs and get your rest.

This sounds impossible but it’s very important to make your health a priority. Your oncologist may recommend in-home care instead of day care to keep you and your child healthy during your treatment. If your child does get sick, you can wear a mask, avoid sharing utensils, and take other precautions. Having a young child is exhausting and may involve a lot of sleepless nights but remember to make sure you get rest during and after treatment.

Stay tuned for more blogs from Sabina covering topics important for young parents coping with a cancer diagnosis!