Childhood cancer and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

In December, I wrote an article highlighting the courage of a popular pastor’s account of his young daughter’s sudden and unexpected death.  That article is my all time most popular – and, even though I write about cancer, at least little Lenya’s story directs readers to my blog and perhaps they will take a mental note that somewhere in the great blogging sphere there is a blog about Christians and cancer.

WordPress keeps daily statistics of the number of readers, what country they are from, what search engine terms they use to search on-line on a specific topic and how many hits that one topic receives; that’s why I know Lenya’s story is my most popular.

Another search engine term that is popping up more and more is childhood cancer.  I am pleased that my blog can be a source of information for parents of children with cancer.

I can not feel the emotion of parents with children suffering from cancer nor understand their guarded hearts that bounce from hope to despair probably on a weekly basis, maybe even daily.  (Hourly?)  I can not even begin to know the unspoken thoughts as parents snuggle up to their little one as she sleeps night after night in the overwhelmingly large hospital bed . . . talk about a feeling of helplessness . . .

I introduced little emilyannelove last year.  She is the little girl that was diagnosed with childhood leukemia before she was even two years old.  She has done well and is doing well.  However, even in doing well there are setbacks that can happen and have happened to little Emily.  As of this writing, the doctors are still testing her for the bacterial infection that caused her to go into septic shock.  She is in the hospital, today is day 7.  The doctors will keep her there until they find the specific infection in order to create the correct antibiotic cocktail to knock this bug out.

little Emily back in the big hospital bed

little Emily back in the big hospital bed

Chrissie, Emily’s mom, made an entry in her blog on March 31, 2013.   Chrissie was sharing how well Emily is doing, her continued chemotherapy maintenance and how family life is returning to “normal.”  But she finished that one paragraph with a sentence that made my heart ache for her.  “I, personally, have struggled with my emotions and thoughts recently regarding Emily’s future -I may write about it soon -but there are many days when our family feels almost normal.”  Chrissie hasn’t written that entry yet.

This summer I started writing about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Cancer, PTSD for short.  I am sharing my story of PTSD and cancer and how lost, alone and afraid I was.  (click here to read my blog book, PTSD and Cancer: Lost, alone and afraid.)

I am taking a break from  my story because Chrissie’s sentence has been sitting in the back of my mind since March.  Earlier this month, another mother of a young daughter with leukemia, ALL, wrote an entry that leaves a heavy weight on my heart, too.

HealingMaya is a well written, raw account of Maya’s journey with cancer.  The story tugs at my heart because it is really more of the mother’s story in watching and caretaking her daughter through cancer.  Fortunately, Maya is in the maintenance phase but that doesn’t mean a mother’s worry is over; now the worry changes into wondering what the future will bring.

PTSDThese two stories, the moms’ unanswered questions and fear for their daughter’s future motivates me to dig into researching and understanding PTSD and childhood cancer.  Can a young child have PTSD?  Or is a parent of a child more apt to suffer from PTSD?

My research and resource findings will follow shortly . . .




2 comments on “Childhood cancer and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

  1. auntiegaby says:

    Cyndi, these are excellent questions and I am so glad you are taking the time to research them. Watching my brother-n-law and sister, Emily’s parents, I beleive that the parents are more apt to develop PTSD but that is just one persons perspective in one situation. Not necessarily true for all parents. Thank you for your dedication to long term solutions!

    On a side note, Emily was moved down to the Pediatrics floor at 3:30 this morning. She was kicked out of PICU. :o) She is on the gradual progression home from this scare of Septic Shock.

    Love in Christ, Gaby

    • Cyndi Heath says:

      It is true that not all survivors and/or caregivers of children suffer from PTSD. But it is for those that do that I continue to write and hopefully, this blog will be information and validation for their questions concerning “depression” which can develop into PTSD. I think two things that plague someone suffering from PTSD is thinking they are going “crazy” and the other is isolation.

      I am so happy Emily is now home! (read the new entry) Chrissie is on the emotional roller coaster ride of her life! I hope she is able to rest and recover from such a draining week!

      Always my best to the whole family! Cyndi

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