Emotional Burden of Childhood Cancer

Emotional Burden of Childhood Cancer

Here To Serve

Smiling girlA cancer diagnosis is a life-changing upheaval for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for families with a child who has been diagnosed with cancer. The psychosocial and emotional strain of childhood cancer can be overwhelming, and it can have lifelong effects on both the child and their family.

The challenges of childhood cancer materialize in many ways. Children can feel fear, anxiety, depression, and a sense of isolation while going through treatment. Kids with cancer may also struggle with the physical effects of treatment, such as nausea, fatigue. Experiencing hair loss can impact a child’s self-esteem and body image as they may feel different from other kids. This pain can lead to social isolation and loneliness.

Cancer survivor at an amusement parkEmotional tolls on families with children battling cancer can be just as challenging. Parents may experience feelings of guilt, anger, and helplessness. They may also feel overwhelmed by the demands of caring for a child with cancer, including managing treatment schedules, coordinating medical appointments, and providing emotional support. Siblings of cancer patients may also experience a range of emotions, including jealousy, guilt, and anxiety.

The burden of childhood cancer can have long-lasting effects on the child and their family. Children who have had cancer may be at increased risk for mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Parents of children with cancer may also experience long-term emotional distress, including symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Young girl smiling

It is important for healthcare providers to recognize the emotional effects of childhood cancer and to provide appropriate support and resources. This can include psychological counseling for both the child and their family, support groups for parents and siblings, and educational resources to help families understand they are not alone.

Battling childhood cancer can be overwhelming for everyone. Children with cancer may experience fear, anxiety, and social isolation, while young families battling cancer may feel overwhelmed and helpless. 

Get help if you are experiencing issues while battling pediatric cancer. Cancer nonprofits like Here to Serve are here to support your entire family for everything you’re missing after you leave the hospital.

Author: Ned Swanson

A Board Member for Here to Serve, Dr. Ned Swanson has a unique background combining scientific, clinical, and industry knowledge. He is passionately dedicated to improving outcomes for patients across the entire patient journey, from therapeutic innovation to comprehensive social support. 

Information on the Here to Serve website is for educational and informational purposes only. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical guidance. All photos in this article are from the Here to Serve archive.

  1. American Cancer Society. Childhood Cancer: Facts & Figures 2020. https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/childhood-cancer-facts-and-figures/childhood-cancer-facts-and-figures-2020-2022.pdf
  2. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Psychosocial Support for Patients and Families. https://www.stjude.org/treatment/patient-resources/caregiver-resources/patient-and-family-support.html
  3. Children’s Oncology Group. Emotional and Social Support. https://www.childrensoncologygroup.org/index.php/new-family-resources/emotional-and-social-support
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  6. Yi, J., Zebrack, B., Kim, M. A., & Noh, D. Y. (2015). Financial burden, employment status, and quality of life in Korean cancer survivors. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 33(2), 136-150.