When a child is diagnosed with neuroblastoma, the entire family suffers a significant emotional and psychological blow. Parents often turn to their family and friends to help them navigate their feelings. They may also lean on other parents who have children with cancer, either through their own doctors, face-to-face local groups or on the Internet. The bonds with these parents can be a tremendous source of strength and ongoing support. When family, friends, and cancer support groups are not enough, one or both parents may decide to seek professional help.
Local Support Groups for Parents of Children with Cancer
There are a number of local pediatric cancer support groups available to help parents and siblings through their cancer journey. CNCF is a tremendous source of family networking options. Its Annual Conference brings neuroblastoma families together from all over the globe to find answers to their questions and share experiences and “war” stories. CNCF also offers a number of online forums that allow families to find and connect with other local neuroblastoma families, as well as post questions in search of information and insight. In addition, groups affiliated with local hospitals, such as Candlelighters (www.candlelighters.org
) , offer many services, as well as a hand to hold, an ear to listen when you need to talk to someone who understands. Hospital social workers are another good source of information on support groups in your community.
Online Support Groups
Online support groups offer the advantage that you do not have to leave your home to "talk" to other parents of children with cancer. Many childhood cancer online support groups exist, some specific for a particular cancer, some specific to a type of cancer.
Many parents find it helpful to seek out mental health care professionals to help them explore the difficult feelings (fear, anger, depression, anxiety, resentment, guilt) that neuroblastoma and other pediatric cancer brings with it. The decision to seek professional help is highly personal, yet can prove tremendously helpful. Counseling is available by professionals with different levels of training: psychotherapists, psychologists, social workers, pastoral care, psychiatrists (MDs), or counselors. Those with specific experience in dealing with the effects of cancer or grief would be good choices.