Make a list of what you need or want to do:
You may need to get answers to some medical questions, see that chores that get done, ensure you do something for your child or children, or you may want to make a note of something you want to say to someone, etc. If this list seems too overwhelming, choose just one or two things to tackle for the day. Pick the most important things to you and remind yourself that many tasks, such as cleaning the house or going through mail, are not so important and can wait.
Here are some simple relaxation exercises some parents have found helpful. Once you get good at doing these, you might even teach them to your child or other family members.
- Deep breathing or “belly breathing” – Sit comfortably in a place where you can have a few minutes to yourself. Breathe in, slowly and deeply, through your nose – your belly should fill up with air like a balloon. Pause for a second and then slowly breathe out through your mouth – your belly should go down, like you are slowly letting the air out of a balloon. Try to let your muscles relax as you breathe out. Some people find it relaxing to count slowly (1-2-3-4) while breathing in and out, or to think of the word “calm” or “relax.”
- Take a few minutes to sit in a quiet place. Close your eyes and try to imagine you are in a place that you find really relaxing or comforting. What do you see? Hear? Touch? Smell? Try to use all of your senses to put yourself in that relaxing place. Let your body relax as you spend a few minutes there.
Some soothing thoughts may help:
Many parents have told us it has been helpful to remind themselves of some of these things:
- Cancer is a treatable illness. Most children with cancer are cured.
- My child is getting wonderful care.
- We are at a terrific hospital and we are all fighting for the same goal.
- There have been thousands of children treated successfully for cancer at this hospital.
- There is new information coming to light about how to treat my child’s cancer all the time.
- Medicine – and especially childhood cancer treatment – has improved dramatically over the past 30 years. A cancer diagnosis today does not mean the same thing it meant when I was a kid.
- Other parents have walked the walk I am walking. There is HOPE. I am grateful for … (make a list of things you are grateful for in your life)
- I am proud of … (make a list of things you are proud of in your life)
- Write down your thoughts and hopes.
- Think of who might be a helpful person to confide in.
- Write an online journal or blog: Some parents find it helpful to keep in touch with friends via a blog. This way you can write at any time about how you are all doing and there will be supportive messages coming back to you when you get time to read them.
- Think of who has offered to talk even in the middle of the night. This might be a time to take them up on it.