By: Nyaka Mwanza
Working with: myleukemiateam
For the more than 3,000 people annually diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in the UK, the cancer diagnosis is frightening, life-changing news. Learning that your child has AML can be even scarier.
There is no right or wrong way to respond to your child’s leukaemia diagnosis, but a few tips can help you handle the news as best you can.
Take Time to Process
Sadness, anger, disbelief, fear, shock — whatever your feelings, try to process them with compassion for yourself. This is a very difficult time.
Some ways to process your feelings during this complicated time include:
- Expressing yourself through art
- Confiding in your trusted loved ones
- Keeping a journal
- Seeing a therapist or counselor
Learn and Ask Questions
An AML diagnosis comes with a steep learning curve. You can’t expect to learn everything at once, or immediately, but try to do your research. Online resources including peer support groups and trustworthy cancer organizations can be a great source of information. When meeting with your child’s doctor, ask every and any question that comes to mind. Keep track of the information with a notebook you bring to appointments.
Your current providers should fully support you getting a second opinion. Getting the opinion of at least one other healthcare provider before starting treatment can help give you confidence that a suggested treatment is the right approach.
While all the information can be overwhelming at times, knowledge can be empowering. You’re not just a passenger on this leukaemia journey. You’re the conductor and key decision maker.
Learning about leukaemia will be a continual process. Make sure you’re comfortable with the treatment plan and the various providers who will be treating and caring for your child along the way. Some top-level things to understand about your child’s diagnosis and treatment include:
- The names and contact information of the treatment team
- The names of the drugs your child will be taking and what each is for
- Possible side effects of each medication or treatment
- Any signs or problems that you should call the cancer care team about
Lean On Others
A cancer diagnosis in the family can leave you or your child feeling alone. Having “the talk” with the people in your life can seem overwhelming, but it can also be hugely rewarding. If and when you and your child are ready to share your child’s leukaemia diagnosis with others, check out these useful tips on talking to your loved ones about cancer.
If you aren’t quite ready to disclose your news to those close to you, know that there are other ways to connect, such as through a peer support group like MyLeukemiaTeam, the social network for people living with and caring for loved one’s with leukaemia.