Relapse Or Recurrence

Sometimes even with providing the best care and treatment, there are likely chances that cancer might come back. This coming back of cancer is what is known as recurrence or relapse. The relapse of cancer happens when some of the cancer cells have survived the initial treatment. Other times it is due to the cancer being spread to certain other parts of the body which were quite small to be detected during the follow-up treatment. 

During the recurrence of cancer, the patients might experience similar reactions such as shock and disbelief. It has been reported that some parents feel guilty for providing their children with the false hope they are getting cured. Well, it should be kept in mind that the recurrence is quite normal in certain cases and it is the fault of no one. Freel free to openly talk about your feelings to your child’s healthcare team so that they can help you effectively manage them. 

It is understandable that as parents and caregivers you might be going through a rollercoaster of emotions, but it is also equally important to discuss with your child’s healthcare team the possible treatment goals that need to be attained. The questions that you consider asking the healthcare team should include, 

  • Is there a chance for a permanent cure for this relapse?
  • Even if there are no cures, there is a chance of controlling this relapse for a period of time
  • What are the standard treatments administered to the children when they face relapse?
  • Can I consider research options for this treatment if there are any? Is the available treatment center close by or does it require traveling?
  • Is there any medical, social, or psychological impact caused as a late effect of teh treatment?
  • Can palliative care be involved, and is there still hope for a cure?
  • What are the steps to monitor cancer now?
  • What is the cause of relapse in my child now?

Some families always go for a second opinion when deciding the treatment for relapse. It is because they need reassurance that they are doing good and everything possible for their children to ensure they get the best and the most effective treatment.  If you wish to get a second opinion about your child’s treatment options, ask their healthcare team about it. A detailed summary of their precious treatment will be given by them. Some families also go in for alternative therapy methods, but before doing so it is mandatory to consult with the physician. 

Relapse can be hard for both the child and the parents, they need help finding strength again. They might feel that their endurance is being tested. If you feel down, ask the healthcare center about the options that they have for support to assist both you and your family. 

The chances of successful relapse treatment are unique and based on the needs of each patient and their specific type of cancer. The success depends on the original type of tumor and the method of treatment that was used initially the duration of the course of treatment, and the general health conditions of the child. 

Crucial medical decisions:

When a child experiences relapse, there arises a need for decision-making. The healthcare team will tell the families about the child’s treatment plans and the goals of this treatment. In addition to working towards the goals, the team will also be a source of hope and strength to make sure that the patients get through each day with the best feeling possible. 

The treatment options during a relapse may vary depending on factors such as the type of diagnosis provided earlier, the type of cancer treated, and the level of the advanced disease. In some cases, there might be hope for a cure, but in some cases, the chances might be very less. Under such circumstances, there will be therapies provided to make sure the child lives as long as possible. 

No matter the outcome, the patients are always encouraged to think about the best possible outcome. 

Emotional health:

Dealing with the release will not be the same as dealing with cancer when it first can be an additional emotional burden that was not there the first time. the feeling that both the child and the parent’s experience might be intense and different than earlier. This is where the child’s healthcare team including the social workers, psychologists, and chaplains come together to provide support and help families find a way to deal with the emotional stress. 

Some of the recommendations include:

Enjoy your favorite activities

Choose a good place where you can relax and a lot a time doing so

Meditation and other relaxation techniques are known to be highly effective

Participation in support communities such as faith-based small groups, a gathering of good friends who listen without judgment, and parent mentors. 

Counseling professionals also help you to process the experience in such a way that it instills hope in you

Every day is the best day:

It can be quite difficult to process your child’s current situation but the best way to cope with it would be to look for the positives and search for the good in each situation. Though it may not seem fair, whatever is happening does have a purpose. This appreciative attitude is what makes even the little things matter the most.

Being appreciative of little things means that, when you feel better one day you can ask your parents to give you your favorite food. You can celebrate the little victories but most importantly, the negative feelings must also be managed sportively. A positive outlook will change the way you respond to things and how you approach situations. Being thankful and celebrating the little things will make you more appreciative and when you look back you will see that you have created fond memories. 

The healthcare team will often recommend that the families need to create memories together. Focus on something you enjoy together even if it is just a small thing. Creating special items like a fingerprint or hand mold can make this journey towards recovery a memorable one. In situations where this is not possible, the palliative team will take care of helping the families to do something creative while they are spending their time together in the hospital. 

Enjoy every day and make it as good as it can be. 

Keeping in mind that each day is precious and indulging in meaningful activities to make the day as good as possible is highly important no matter the outcome of the treatment. 

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