CLIC Sargent highlighted the impact of cancer on the school life of younger children during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month 2012.
Our research - No child with cancer left out - identified a range of challenges that children face keeping up with their education and school friends during and after cancer treatment. We do all we can to help - our care professionals provide clinical, practical and emotional support to children and young people with cancer, and their families. Our aim is to help ensure that the whole family receives the support which works best for them.
One child in Scotland, whose family wishes to remain anonymous, was diagnosed with an osteosarcoma (bone cancer) when she was nine years old after breaking her leg at school.
She spent a long period of time away from home and it was whilst she was in hospital she began to feel very isolated from her school and classmates, making her return to school after treatment quite hard.
Her mum explains:
“At first the school were very sympathetic. However, I don’t think her class were ever told what was really wrong with her, the school just said that (my daughter) had broken her leg and she’s in hospital. I gave them one of the CLIC Sargent books, Lucy has a Tumour and asked if they wanted me to come and talk to her class, but this did not happen.”
At the beginning of her diagnosis and treatment, her school made a big effort to support her – her teacher and classmates made the 80 mile round trip to visit her. However, “after that there was no more contact from the school or her friends at school and she felt very isolated.”
“It did not help her feeling of isolation when the hospital banned visitors for fear of infections, so she didn’t see anyone, including her sisters.”
When her daughter did return to school, her feelings of isolation continued. Fitting back in to school life was hard.
Her mum continues:
“She went back to school part time at Easter and…the Head teacher was reluctant to let her be with other children as she was still in a wheelchair at that time and she was worried she would get hurt. The teacher did not encourage other children to mix with her and so her and her best friend became isolated.”
After she had a meeting with her daughter’s oncologist and physiotherapist, they both wrote to the school to encourage them to enable her daughter to reform friendships to reduce her isolation. A CLIC Sargent Nurse also came to her school to talk about cancer and how it can affect children – for example the feelings of isolation and lack of confidence they can experience.