Every year, approximately 10,000 parents are given some of the worst news they’ll ever face. That they’ve got cancer. That equates to 27 Aussie kids dealing, every day, with the hardship of having a parent so sick. A few days ago (Feb 4), it was World Cancer Day – and that day marked the launch of the first Australian charity to support children aged 0-13 who have a parent with cancer: Camp Quality.
While still helping kids who battle cancer themselves, Camp Quality is branching out and aims to help children who are fighting the battle for their parents.
When someone is diagnosed with cancer, the stress and pain of their diagnosis and treatment often affects the families more than we think, or can recognise – the kids as much as anyone.
Camp Quality commissioned a review on the support and interventions currently available to children with a parent with cancer. This was undertaken by Dr Claire Wakefield from Sydney Children’s Hospital and University of NSW. It was found that children urgently require age-appropriate information about cancer, a safe space to share and ‘normalise’ their feelings with other kids like them, and support to communicate with family members.
Kids can pick up on things between their parents long before anyone decides to tell them – and without age-appropriate literature, they can often be scared and overwhelmed because they realise that mum or dad is serious ill, but their misconceptions about the disease make the situation seem worse than it is.
Simon Rountree, Camp Quality’s chief executive, said: “This new program represents the largest expansion of services in Camp Quality’s 30 year history. We’ll support a group of children, aged 13 and under, which no other national charity currently helps.”
Camp Quality is currently developing its programs to help and support kids who have a parent with cancer, starting with a focus on kids aged 7-12. These programs are due to be launched later in 2014, and will incorporate the latest and best thinking around children’s behavioural therapies.