Making Treatment Decisions for Childhood Cancers

When your child is diagnosed with cancer, it’s normal to feel a range of intense emotions, such as anger, grief, guilt, and fear. Understand that the cancer is not your fault, and don’t hesitate to find healthy outlets for your feelings. This will help you to be the stable, comforting presence your child needs as he or she begins treatment for cancer.

You will have lots of decisions to make about your child’s treatment. Here are some steps you can take to gather information, make choices, and care for your child and your family in the process.

Getting the information to make a decision

  1. Take your time to gather and absorb information. Bring a notebook with you to your child’s appointments to take notes and write questions. Ask your child’s doctor for additional resources to learn about your child’s condition and potential treatment options. Be careful about what websites you view – some will only alarm you unnecessarily. The doctor and medical staff will be able to provide guidance on which websites to consult.
  2. Ask questions. Our physicians and staff are always willing to talk with you about your child’s care and will listen seriously to your concerns. No question is too trivial to ask.
  3. Don’t hesitate to get a second opinion. Many of our patients have come to Siteman Kids to receive a second opinion on a previous diagnosis. Your doctor will understand.
  4. Seek out the parents of other children who have or have had cancer. They, more than anyone else, will truly understand what you are going through, and will probably have suggestions and tips.
  5. Include your child in decisions about their care as much as is age appropriate. Older children and teenagers will probably want to be involved. Try to respect their desire for independence and autonomy as much as possible.