what can we do to help a real little kid with cancer and his parents?
September 27, 2005 2:46 PM   Subscribe

my girlfriends nephew (2.5 years old) just had emergency neurosurgery for a presumed cancerous tumor in his cerebellum ... what can we do to help him and his parents?
posted by specialk420 to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
In instances like the one you are experiencing, it is always appreciated when others can help the family meet basic needs/burdens. If you live nearby, consider preparing a few days worth of meals that you can drop off -- or, arrange for meals to be delivered. Offer to take care of household chores, etc.
posted by ericb at 3:06 PM on September 27, 2005

It probably depends on what he/his parents need, and nobody here can determine that (beyond suggestions). From an outsider's standpoint, it is hard to tell if they need financial assistance, care for other children, emotional support, people to relieve them from hospital duty so they can rest/have meals, etc. Once you have a better idea of the kind of help they need, I'm sure the people around here will have plenty of ideas for how you should go about providing the help.
posted by necessitas at 3:08 PM on September 27, 2005

Response by poster: thanks for the advice ... i am especially looking for suggestions from those who may have experience with little kids with cancer, especially in the brain ... such a sad sudden ordeal for his family - any advice is welcomed.
posted by specialk420 at 3:20 PM on September 27, 2005

Do they have any other kids? Babysit long and late. Bring food, nutritious food. Don't be hurt if they don't eat any of it. Drive people back and forth from the hospital. Pick people up at the airport. Answer the phone for them. Bring treats for the nurses. Take a shift at the bedside while one or the other of the parents gets a nap.
posted by Sara Anne at 3:29 PM on September 27, 2005

Specialk - maybe you can look up some online groups/sites dealing with her nephew's illness and print out some helpful tips and suggestions from other parents who have been through it with their children. I'm sure the family does not have the energy/focus to read it now but they might appreciate it in the months ahead.
posted by necessitas at 3:37 PM on September 27, 2005

i am especially looking for suggestions from those who may have experience with little kids with cancer, especially in the brain

I have friends whose son (4 y.o.) has been dealing with just this over the past two years. Many have reached out in so many ways. At the very start of the ordeal folks with medical knowledge and great research capability were able to scour the Internet for relevant information on the diagnosis -- even leading to identifying an expert in Pittsburgh -- whom they called and who agreed to "join the medical team." Others were able to use their personal/professional networks to identify and evaluate protocols, other cases similar to this one. In this instance the focus on "learning" and "connecting" helped the family stay focused and to mitigate some of the emotional upheaval. As has been suggested, helping to alleviate burdens of time, travel, food, etc. go a long way. Just "being there" (when the family wants others there) helps.
posted by ericb at 3:39 PM on September 27, 2005

What necessitas said!
posted by ericb at 3:40 PM on September 27, 2005

My 17 month old son was hospitalized for 4 days about a month ago for some serious burns.

We were very thankful for friends and family who brought meals for us, and balloons and toys for our son; The Children's hospital can be a pretty boring place for those little guys.

We were also very thankful for friends who brought their kids by to play with our son.

Since it sounds like your gf's nephew is still in the first few, jolting, days of hospitalization, I'm sure meals, toys, and kid-friends are all welcome.
posted by u2604ab at 5:23 PM on September 27, 2005

My friend's little girl had a brain tumor years ago, when she was 4. She's fine now, believe it or not, and I think it's 10 years later now. Her little girl loved cats, and we brought ours over for a night so she could pet it and hold it. Sounds simple, but animals work magic. Needs to be a calm cat though, even our very friendly feline was a bit more nervous than I expected being in a strange house.
posted by GaelFC at 5:57 PM on September 27, 2005

Try the American Brain Tumor Association. They have support groups. There is a Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation but I am not familiar with what programs they have for parents. The hospital may also have support programs, counselors, social workers and child therapists the parents may want to seek out.
posted by Sully6 at 6:28 PM on September 27, 2005

Looks like my link was bad. Here's the correct link for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

I'm very sorry to hear about this little boy's illness. If you think it would be helpful, definitely encourage the folks involved to seek out support when the time is right. I worked for several years for a neurosurgeon specializing in brain tumors and I spent a good bit of time with patients and families. Some people are reticent about seeking support outside the family but I've seen how helpful these services can be. Good luck to all of you.
posted by Sully6 at 6:43 PM on September 27, 2005

My sister had brain surgery for a tumor when she was 12. She wound up in the hospital for 3 months, it took her another 3 months after that to be able to speak, and a full year to be able to walk normally.

I was only 14 at the time, so I don't really have the adult perspective to offer specific advice, but I can tell you that the long period of recovery and uncertainty was a lot more difficult for everyone than the crisis of the operation. After the first few weeks, people stopped visiting. Think about ways to be there for your friends for the long haul.
posted by fuzz at 2:36 AM on September 28, 2005

Response by poster: thanks for all the great tips and links. the cat suggestion i never would have thought of ... now that you mention it - it's really a great one. thanks people - ask.meta really shines in threads like this.
posted by specialk420 at 8:28 AM on September 28, 2005

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