Is it okay to bring kids to chemo session?

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Question from Karen: Is it a good idea to take your children (ages 9 and 11) to a chemotherapy session or not?
Answers - Paula K. Rauch, M.D. It depends on whether they want to go. If the child expresses an interest in visiting the hospital, and if it's even possible to do so, it may demystify the experience. Sometimes a chemotherapy visit is too long and you just may not feel up to having the children present for the entire time unless you have another adult present who can take them to do other activities. Some parents will take their children if they're having bloodwork or another short appointment. For others whose children are interested in the hospital but don't necessarily want to see an appointment, take photographs—nurses, your physician, the front desk people—and have a conversation using those illustrations.
Tamara Shulman, Ph.D., FAACP When a child asks to attend a chemotherapy session, one thing I wonder about is what information they are actually seeking. It may be very helpful to ask what they're curious about. By demystifying the experience and giving them some information—what actually happens, how long it lasts, what it looks like, etc.—that may satisfy the natural curiosity those questions are expressing. Some children may wish to see the setting, and it might be an idea to take them to see the area of the hospital when you're not having chemotherapy. Very often when children ask if they can see a treatment, what they're really asking for is more information about the treatment. They're worried about what Mom does all day and then comes home and is tired. Giving that kind of information is helpful and reassuring.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Talking With Kids about Breast Cancer featured Paula Rauch, M.D. and Tamara Shulman, Ph.D., F.A.A.C.P. answering your questions about specific ways to support your kids while you undergo treatment, and different communication strategies for helping your kids to feel secure during a time of uncertainty.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in May 2006.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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