Essential Steps to Take After a Cancer Diagnosis
Reclaim Your Power
As a young family, finding out that your child or spouse has been diagnosed with cancer can be the most devastating moment in your life. Nothing quite compares to knowing there isn’t much you can do to protect your child or spouse from this awful disease. However, there are some ways to reclaim your power over the sickness to best support your family. Follow along for some essential steps to take when your child is diagnosed with cancer.
Take a Moment to Understand
The first thing you need to do when your child or spouse receives a cancer diagnosis take a moment to process the information. Ask the doctors to repeat the diagnosis several times if you need it, and take notes to reference later. Since your emotions will be heightened, you will want the exact diagnosis to look at when leaving the doctor’s office and when you eventually tell family and friends. You can also ask for copies of test results to reference later. If it helps you process the diagnosis and prognosis, you can consider getting a second opinion with another oncologist.
Most importantly, ask your child or spouse’s team to explain to you the essentials of care at home. Regrading pediatric cancer, in a previous blog (pain of pediatric cancer) we shared that going through treatment, your child will be uncomfortable while experiencing treatment’s side effects. Sometimes hospitals even offer classes or groups for parents of children with cancer. Here you can discuss the topics with families in similar situations as yours.
Set Up Your Finances
Once you’ve taken some time to process your child’s diagnosis, you’ll need to get some logistics in order. This includes organizing your finances. Over the months, or possibly years, that your child is in treatment, you’ll need to work closely with your insurance provider and the hospital billing department to devise a payment plan for treatment. Additionally, there may be other personal costs, like time off of work, in-home assistance, extra gas and hospital parking, co-pays, and any of your usual recurring expenses. Some organizations can help alleviate these costs, and your hospital social worker will also be able to see what you qualify for in your area. If Here to Serve charity is helping you, they can also assist in these things.
Take a minute to sit down and organize your finances throughout the time that your child will be receiving care. An organized budget will be crucial to get you through this challenging time without adding any additional stress. First, list any recurring expenses and see what can be reduced during this time, such as eating out or unused subscription services. Then look at your fixed payments to see if there’s any way for you to reduce them. Some companies have financial hardship policies that you may be eligible for. Meaning if you’ve been in good financial standing with the company over a long period and you explain your hardship, they may be able to reduce your payments or come up with a more suitable payment plan. You should pursue this with phone, internet, and utility companies, as well as any other fixed expenses you have.
Additionally, if you’re a homeowner, you can look into how home equity loans work to give you a financial cushion. A home equity loan uses the difference between what your home is worth and what you owe on your mortgage to provide you with a lump of cash to use at your discretion. This is a suitable option should you need to consolidate debt or cover unexpected expenses throughout this time.
Create a New Routine
The next essential step for you and your family will be creating a new sense of normalcy. Although this may not be your typical normal, getting into a routine as much as possible will help everyone in the family transition during treatment. Talk to your family and friends, as they’ll likely want to help out in any way they can such as rides or preparing your meals. Creating a schedule for these types of things will help everyone in the family keep track of when you’ll need additional assistance.
Talk to your employer about family leave options. Taking time to process the treatment and care for your child will leave you feeling more supported. Family leave policies vary drastically by state, and some states don’t even have mandated policies so it’s up to employers. Options can range from a leave of absence to paid family leave. The amount of time allowed out of office will also depend on your employer. Explain to your employer the circumstances you’re in and hopefully, they’ll sympathize and try to support you as much as they can.
Additionally, you’ll want to keep some sense of your family life, before cancer, alive during your child’s treatment if possible. Talk to your child’s doctors and see what their limitations are. For example, some children can go on vacations out of state, while others may need family movie nights at home or in the hospital. Either way, by talking with the care team, you’ll better understand how to integrate some normalcy into your child’s time throughout treatment.
Finding out about your child or spouse’s cancer diagnosis can be extremely overwhelming. But following some of these tips and reading up on more expert advice can help you navigate the process. For more information on essential steps to take when your child is diagnosed with cancer, please check out the Here to Serve website and our blogs.
All information on this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. Always consult a medical provider in your particular area of need before making significant changes in your medical decisions or lifestyle.