Coping With Family Crisis

A Childhood Cancer Diagnosis

None of us are prepared for the worst. Nature’s destruction of people’s lives has been prominent in the news recently. One minute a home and community is there and then it’s gone. If the people in that situation have only lost a physical structure and not their lives, they feel fortunate. They may grieve for the loss of what they had, but know that the “things” in life are replaceable.

A diagnosis of childhood cancer isn’t the same as a flood, tornado or earth quake, but it still leaves the family sitting in the ruins of their life, stunned by the suddenness of the loss of all normality. Unfortunately what they face next isn’t the rebuilding of a physical structure, but the struggle to maintain any structure in daily life. Familiar landmarks are gone. Shock and grief are present, but the demands of treatment don’t allow any processing of the emotions.

To cope with this requires support from many sources. Families often don’t even know what to ask for while community members want to help, but often don’t know what to do. Food is what most people think of and that’s a wonderful thought until someone leaves a casserole on the front porch that the family doesn’t know about. They come home to something spoiled and while feeling grateful for the thought, are sad for the waste.

Remembering our own treatment experience, I have compiled a list of what helped us. This fall I plan to offer a presentation of Casseroles Aren’t Enough at book signings.

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