by Amy Aubin, Living with Cancer
To a child, a parent is their entire world. Children don’t think of the logistics of what it takes to put a roof over their head, to feed them, to get them to school, all under regular circumstances. To them, parents are invincible – at least most of the time. Parents are largely just the people who say no to extra treats or to sleepovers on school nights, they are the people who make us wash up before meals and make us bathe before bed. But they are also our safety net – cuddling us to sleep and checking under the bed for monsters and assuring us that everything will be fine. For a child, a parent showing their vulnerability especially at a young age is a very scary thing.
by Dr Anne Grinyer, Director Masters Programmes, Division of Health Research, Faculty of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University
The diagnosis of life threatening illness in a child or young person is experienced as a devastating shock to the whole family; parents, siblings and wider family members are all affected as are their family relationships. The diagnosis of cancer in adolescents and young adults (AYAs) brings with it particular challenges that are related to the life stage of the young person at a transitional moment between childhood and adulthood; they are beginning to establish their independence but it is extremely fragile and thrown into crisis under these circumstances. This chapter considers how family relationships are affected: the tensions that can arise between parents and a son or daughter struggling to retain their autonomy; the negotiation of roles when the AYA has a partner or is married; the difficulty parents have in creating ‘open awareness’ about the prognosis; and finally how parents manage their own health issues under such circumstances.