Top 10 Tips For Surviving The Hospital

By: Barb Kronback

You’ve got the deer in the headlight look.
You’re on a rollercoaster that is traveling out of control. The bottom has fallen out of your life and it will never be normal again. These are all feelings you will experience when your child has been diagnosed with cancer. How do you survive?

These tips will help you start to get your feet under you again.

1. Swallow your pride and accept any and all offers of help, whether that is bringing your family meals, cleaning, taking care of siblings, or running errands. When someone asks you how they can help, be honest. Don’t say you are “alright”, because you’re not.

2. Purchase or have someone else get you a hanging shoe bag. Put sample sizes of your hygiene products in the pockets. Slippers, vitamins, hair brush, anything else you need on a daily basis, so that when you have to go to the ER in the middle of the night, everything is ready. Keep it in a suitcase that already packed so you don’t have to worry about packing. Have books and games also packed for your child and yourself.

3. To keep track of medications. Have a calendar and different stickers for each medicine. Put one on the bottle and then when you give that medicine, put the same sticker on the calendar. This makes it so much easier to keep track of all medications and not worry if you forgot a dose, or if someone else is helping. This way they will know what to do.

4. Try to have someone with you when you have meetings with the doctors. You will be on information overload and may have a hard time understanding everything they are throwing at you. More than likely you will be sleep deprived also, so this person can take notes and jot down questions for you. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand. There is no dumb question. Remember you know your child best and are their only advocate.

5. Take care of yourself! Sleep when your child is sleeping. Make sure you eat everyday. Now you probably won’t feel like eating or be hungry, but you need to force yourself to have something. If you get run down you won’t be any good for your child. Keep snacks in the room like trail mix, fresh fruit, cheese sticks or yogurt. These are things others can buy for you. Keep a notebook handy to jot down anything you think of so if someone asks what you need, you’ll have it handy.

6. It will be hard but BE POSITIVE! Don’t let negativity into your child’s room. If you cry (and you will) do it where your child won’t see you because it will just scare them even more. Remember Laughter Is The Best Medicine! Watch comedies or cartoons with your child, the more they laugh, the better they will feel.

7. Depending on your child’s age, let them have control of the TV remote. They have lost all control over their life, and this is one thing that will make them feel they have control over something. You’ll probably go insane watching Sponge Bob marathons, but it is so worth it to see the smile on your child’s face.

8. Don’t stay in your child’s room 24/7. Get out and take a walk. Talk to other parents and share encouragement and prayers. When able, let your child meet other kids so they don’t feel so alone.

9. Set up a Caring Bridge site as soon as possible or have someone do it for you. This is a site to journal your cancer journey for family and friends to read, so you don’t have to make or field a zillion phone calls everyday. (

10. Make sure you have your child’s favorite blanket, stuffed animals, toys or pjs with you whenever you go to the hospital. Pictures of family members help too. You want to give your child comfort.

Remember – cancer doesn’t affect just your child, it affects the whole family.

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