Advice for Newly Diagnosed Families

It is impossible to explain the emotions that you feel when told that your child has a brain or spinal cord tumour. We all react differently, yet we are all willing to do anything to make our child well again. This is possibly the most stressful time you will ever have to face, so don’t do it alone. Here are a few simple tips to help you in the initial stages:

  • Nominate one friend or family member to be your liaison. They can then disseminate information and progress reports to others via phone, email etc.
  • Make notes wherever possible. Keep a diary to stay on top of appointments and write down questions and observations for the doctor.
  • Support each other and ensure that you maintain a regular diet and get sleep whenever possible. You cannot help your child if you get sick.
  • Be patient; hospital hours are very long! Find some good books, crosswords or take up knitting to pass the time.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If the lawn needs mowing or the washing is piling up, ask a family member or friend to help you out. They will be happy to do it.
  • Focus on positive thoughts and surround yourselves with positive people.
  • Ask questions. If you do not understand something, do not be afraid to ask for further details or for the explanation to be repeated.
  • Be prepared to answer questions from your child about their illness. Be honest but guarded in your responses, but obviously this will depend on the age of your child.
  • Reach out to hospital welfare/social workers to help you get through this difficult time. There is financial and emotional support available to you if you reach out and ask.
  • Remember that your child’s diagnosis and treatment will have an effect on the whole family including your other children. Siblings will often have feelings of grief, anxiety, jealousy and loneliness during your long hours at the hospital. Try to reassure them that they are loved and include them where possible with visits and time alone with you.