Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - 27

Focus on Getting Better

You're now ready to begin your treatment-
and that's when the real work begins.
"This is the time to prioritize your mental, physical
and emotional well-being," Marais says. "That means
surrounding yourself with loved ones, nourishing
yourself with a healthy diet, staying hydrated, exercising [as recommended by your provider] and completing your treatment plan."
Try to minimize obligations in your life that
increase your stress level or drain your energy
reserves by accepting the help that others offer. "It
may be difficult to let go of your normal responsibilities," Wiatrek says. "But your No. 1 job right now is
to focus on getting better." ■

TELLING YOUR CHILD
YOU HAVE CANCER
Explaining that you have cancer to a child of any age is
incredibly difficult, but it's an important conversation to
have. "Studies show that educating children as young as
3 can help them cope better with a family member's diagnosis, both in the short and long term," says Jessika Boles,
PhD, a certified child life specialist and a member of the
board of the Association of Child Life Professionals. Here,
she shares a few tips for talking to your child or grandchild.
Plan what you'll say in advance. "Think about the
questions the child may ask and how you can answer
them in a way that is thoughtful and age-appropriate,"
Boles says. "Consider whether the child had any previous
exposure to cancer, and how this situation may be similar
or different."
Talk to each child individually. Every child is unique,
and the conversations you have with him or her about your
cancer should be, too. "Set aside a time when you can
minimize distractions and interruptions so that you can
tailor the conversation to each child's age and personality,"
Boles says.
Be open and honest. "Shielding a child from the realities of cancer will only lead to confusion and fear," Boles
says. "It's better to answer their questions honestly and in
a loving way they can understand."
Explain what cancer is. Many children, especially
younger ones, don't understand what cancer is or how
you get it. "It's important to explain that cancer is different
from a cold or flu, that the child can't catch it and that they
didn't cause it," Boles says. While many adults are hesitant
to use the word "cancer," they should use it, Boles says.
Word like "sick" can actually be more confusing for a child.
Keep talking to them. "Kids cope better with change
when they know what to expect," Boles says. "Providing
simple updates and brief explanations throughout your
treatment can help children of all ages prepare for whatever comes next."

WEBSITE

Don't Go It Alone
You'll find an extensive array of support
services at UVA Cancer Center, ranked
among the top 3 percent of cancer
centers in the nation. Learn more at
cancer.uvahealth.com.

FALL 2018

27


http://cancer.uvahealth.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia

Contents
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Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - Contents
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Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover3
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