Stories about: Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center (DF/CHCC).

How to talk to children about cancer

Our colleagues at Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center (DF/CHCC) recently shared this very helpful blog post on how to talk to young children with cancer about their illness. After reading it I wanted to share with Thriving readers, as many of the suggestions apply to a number of pediatric illnesses. For more information on pediatric cancer and its treatment, please visit DF/CHCC’s blog, Insight.

Helping a loved one face cancer is never easy, but the challenge is especially daunting when the patient is your own child. The clinicians at DF/CHCC work with pediatric cancer patients and their families every day. Lisa Diller, MD, Anna Muriel, MD, and Jorge Fernandez, LCSW – offer these tips for talking with your children about their illness.           

1. Include them in the discussion. For many parents, the natural instinct is to not give their child information about their diagnosis to avoid scaring them. But children can view this protection as exclusion, a feeling that they are not important enough to include in the discussion. It’s also anxiety-provoking in that it creates uncertainties and fears that the situation may be worse than it really is.

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The many faces of childhood cancer: Steven Clifford

Steven Clifford is an 18-year-old osteosarcoma survivor. A Boston native, he recently started college at the University of California, San Diego. Read Steven’s story then join Boston Children’s Hospital and ABC for a tweet chat on pediatric cancer, with Dr. Richard Besser today at 1 PM. Use the hash tag #abcDrBchat to join the conversation.


Life is made up of many difficult decisions. However, imagine my surprise when I had to make a tough and potentially life changing decision at the young age of 11. Up until then, I just was an average child who couldn’t wait to get out of school to play any sport imaginable with his friends.

All that came to a close when I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer, in the tibia in my right leg. The innocent days of childhood were washed away, and suddenly I was faced with decisions that can be difficult for a grownup to make, never mind an 11-year-old kid.

One of the biggest choices came pretty early on: What would happen to my leg?  My doctor from Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center (DF/CHCC), Megan Anderson, MD, explained that I had two options to choose from when it came to surgery: either bone resection (removing the cancerous part of my tibia) or amputation of my leg.

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Building a brighter day

Workers from Walsh Brothers Incorporated are keeping very busy building a new tower at Children’s Hospital Boston, but the workload isn’t so fast paced that they can’t take a second or two out of their day to make some kids smile. The crew receives the names of patients whose hospital beds face their construction site and before a beam is attached to the tower’s frame they spray paint a child’s name on it, as well as an encouraging message or two.

To kids facing medical hardships seeing his or her name on the side of a building may not seem like a big deal, but the parents of these kids say it’s a little gesture that goes a long way.

Scheduled for a late 2013 completion, the new building will:

  • provide the Hospital with 20 ‘short stay beds’. (i.e. 23-hour Observation beds)
  • allow the Hospital to better utilize our existing DPH-licensed beds.
  • allow for critical expansions of the Emergency Department.
  • provide an increase in Radiology capacity, additions to Surgical areas and provision of new inpatient support spaces.
  • provide as many as 34 single bed Inpatient rooms to meet future needs for specific subspecialties.

To learn more about how Children’s treats neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer that occurs most often in infants and young children, or speak with one of our pediatric oncology experts, please contact the Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center (DF/CHCC).

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