Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.

Kids With Cancer-A Lesson in Courage

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Feb 19, 2013 9:31 PM

I've been reading a lot about children with cancer. As you know, some survive, some don't. What is amazing is how they cope-better than adults with cancer and much better than the parents, usually. It isn't that they don't understand the danger or feel the pain and nausea as much as adults. It's that they don't overthink. They don't have the long-term view of the future. We adults tend to project months and years ahead. Children live now.

Also, children play, which means they exercise their imaginations well, unlike adults who get stuck in the mire of reality. They can play with the idea that the good fairies, God, or nice strong cells will visit their tumor or damaged areas and heal them. They have more hope. There's no proof that imagination helps with a cure or remission but it sure makes treatment and living go better. Also, their view of death, although still scary, isn't as dramatic as ours. They know an animal or grandma never came back but they may believe that, at least, grandma oversees from afar or lives on in their hearts. They may not see death as permanent and may not fear it as much. Of course, they fear leaving their parents a lot, but when asked about it, they usually say they are more scared of the parents dying than dying themselves. Somehow, they believe they may still be around magically.

We can learn something about courage and dignity from children. They cry about a shot but cope with chemo. They tolerate surgery better than having their videogames withdrawn. They can't face teasing too well but they can face a long road ahead of fighting for life. It's truly amazing.

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