Helping Cancer Patients Return to School

BOSTON, July 27 (UPI) — Cancer is tough enough, but a child with cancer also has to deal with a lot of questions about cancer from classmates, a U.S. researcher says.

Lisa Scherber, head of the back-to-school program at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, said children often ask if it’s safe to hug their friend with cancer because they want to know if they can catch cancer, or they want to know what chemotherapy means. Some are concerned about hair thinning.

The back-to-school program uses puppet shows and other child-friendly methods to explore questions and reduce the anxiety of the child with cancer and his or her classmates, Scherber explains.

“We want to take away the fear the classmates might have of being able to play with her the same way that they played with her beforehand,” Scherber said in a statement. “It’s also for her classmates to sort of make them feel like it’s OK, we can support our friend because now we understand what cancer is.”

The American Cancer Society estimates more than 10,000 children and teens age 15 and under are diagnosed with cancer every year in the United States.

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