Leukaemia Foundation

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Family Matters

A diagnosis of leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma or a related blood disorder can cause an extreme amount of stress within any family.

Where children are involved, it can be especially difficult. The demands of treatments and tests bring many disruptions to normal family routines and day-to-day lives.

While it is important to try to maintain as normal a family life as possible, it is also important to have realistic expectations. Trying too hard may result in putting further stress on you and those around you. Sometimes realising that things will be different for some time can reduce stress and provide a realistic basis to cope with your situation. It is important for your family to talk about what each person needs in the situation and to acknowledge that these needs can change overtime. If necessary you should seek help in dealing with the difficult issues you are facing.

It can be helpful to set some priorities regarding what needs to be done to keep family life running as smoothly and as near to normal as possible. It is also important to think about various family members and friends who may be able to help at different times, for example cooking, cleaning or taking children to and from school or day care, or simply taking care of the family pet. Someone outside the family, a friend or professional like a social worker may be able to help you with this. In most cases people are only too willing to help if they can, especially if they are guided by being given specific tasks.

Children need a great deal of support, guidance and love at all times but especially after someone in the family has been diagnosed with blood cancer. Reassuring them that they are loved and giving them opportunities to talk about how they are feeling is important. Sticking as much as possible to normal routines like bedtimes, applying the expected boundaries on behaviors and having a reasonable and consistent approach to discipline is also important and can help to make the child feel more secure, when so many other things appear to be changing within their family.

There are many people who can assist you and your family in coping with the practical and emotional difficulties you may be experiencing. These include counselors, psychologists, social worker/welfare workers or pastoral care workers and the support services staff of the Leukaemia Foundation. They can provide you with support and understanding and identify strategies that will help you and your family cope during and after treatment.