by Sue McKechnie, CKN Childhood Cancer Co-editor, Bereaved Parent
It’s a decision that you never thought you would have to make. A decision that most people cannot imagine. The unfortunate reality of childhood cancer is that not all children will survive.
When we were told there was no treatment options left for Shawn and that the tumour in his brain would eventually take his life, we were faced with the decision of whether he would spend his last days in the hospital, in a hospice centre or at home.
A woman with newly-diagnosed colon cancer recalls being alone in her hospital room. She is scared about a pending surgery and uncertain about life after treatment. She is angry. And she is struggling with the question, “Why me?” She remains silent, reluctant to reveal any of her emotions and spiritual distress to her loved ones … to burden them.
This is the very type of situation in which a professional chaplain can help. Supporting individuals regardless of religion or beliefs, or no religion or beliefs, multi-faith professional chaplains are trained to listen, to be nonjudgmental, to tap into a person’s inner strengths, and to provide comfort and meaning. They help patients and their families navigate serious or life-threatening illness, end of life, and grief.