HomeSupport for FamiliesWhat does covid19 look like for child cancer
HomeSupport for FamiliesWhat does covid19 look like for child cancer

What does Covid-19 look like for the families we support?

Article by Robyn Kiddle, Chief Executive at Child Cancer Foundation

In this period of physical isolation and lockdown I have often been asked how the children and families that Child Cancer Foundation support are coping. The answer might surprise you.

Firstly, for families who have received a diagnosis during this period, there is definitely an added level of anxiety. On top of an unplanned, unexpected diagnosis, they’re faced with challenges around the restricted access in treatment centres in Auckland and Christchurch, domestic travel limitations to get to treatments and how to keep to their family connected during this time.

Secondly, for the families who are currently on or who have been through treatment, their general view is that the rest of New Zealand is now catching up to their way of life. Isolation, heightened personal hygiene routines and life in “a bubble” is nothing new to these families.

We have been in a unique position to learn from those we support;

Resilience is a key strength.

How to stay strong in changing conditions and coping with the unexpected.

Focus on what you can control and not planning too far into the future. These families have learnt that plans can change all the time and they have learnt to go with the flow and not to stress too much.

What families really need is at home and they don’t have a need to go out and about every day.

There is a growing sense of gratitude – gratitude for the help and support of others, gratitude for the simple things in life that you are able to enjoy and the unintended experiences that you have on this unplanned journey.

And finally, there is the ‘new normal’. An acceptance that things won’t be the same as they were before this happened and a realisation that the new normal is not all that bad.

All this has meant that, in most cases, these families who are among the most vulnerable in our communities, are probably the most relaxed about where they find themselves through this nationwide lockdown. And if they’re not, we continue to support them in practical and emotional ways.

The parallels to what we as a nation are experiencing are uncanny and at Child Cancer Foundation we are living a first hand experience of how our support can make an impact, and to walk, albeit tiptoeing, in their shoes.