Coping Strategy #9

Art Therapy!

Something that always calms me down and gives me time to gather my thoughts is anything artsy or craftsy! I have learned that this really helps when coping with your parent’s cancer.

Recently, I started scrapbooking memories of my dad so I could hold on to them and cherish them forever. DIY (Do It Yourself) projects are also fun because you get to be as creative as you want and you save money! There are a ton of DIY projects that could help cancer patients too! For example, if your parent or loved on is going into surgery or is in the hospital, you can sew them a little pillow and blanket with a pattern that they would appreciate. They would also feel more ‘home-y’ and less ‘hospital-y’. Another great example is knitting beanies or something similar for patients who have lost their hair.

If you have a sick parent, grandparent, etc. I think it would be therapeutic to do an art project with them. This way, both parities can let out emotions while creating memories during a tough time. Studies show that art therapy helps a sick patient by reducing anxiety levels, improving social skills and communication, and controlling the pain in a better way.

Stay positive and keep spreading those smiles! For more DIY ideas for cancer patients, email copingwithcancerforkids@gmail.com!

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Coping Strategy #7

Therapy!

Having a sick parent is tough. It’s also frustrating, sad, chaotic at times, depressing, scary and much more. It’s hard to cope with all of those feelings, while living a life. It’s also a challenge to keep those feelings separate from your school and social life.

I highly suggest talking to someone. It’s too unhealthy to keep all those negative feelings bottled up. Therapy is a great option to let it all out. Saying your feelings outloud to a specialist will help you feel better and more secure. I’m also sure that your parent’s oncologist knows of programs you can join or someone to talk to. You could also talk to your school counselor or any teacher. For that matter, you could talk to any adult that is willing to just listen! Talk to your friends if you don’t feel comfortable talking to an adult. Just talk to someone! You will feel better afterwards.

If your parent is in the hospital or under Hospice Care, they will have social workers for you! If they haven’t already reached out to you, give them a call and see what they can offer to you. Some insurances also cover a few free therapy sessions, so check that out as well.

Therapy can be time-consuming and challenging at times, but the outcome is worth it. Remember to do your research about the therapists near you if you plan on seeking that help! Stay positive!

Coping Strategy #5

Music!

Listening to music is beneficial. Having creative lyrics to listen to helps find yourself and explain those feelings in a way that you could not have put in words. Not only is listening to music helpful, but writing music is a great creative outlet to help cope with hard circumstances. Music lowers stress and anxiety levels. The stress hormone, cortisol decreases with music, leading to a more positive mood and outlook on life. Through research many psychologists have found music therapy helps build self-esteem, confidence, and cognitive functioning.

My dad and I loved playing guitar together. I will always cherish the memories of us sharing our enthusiasm for the instrument. Over the last few years, my guitar madness has diminished as school took over my life. The few times I still play the guitar, it calms my emotions down and brings back amazing memories of my dad. Playing an instrument is therapeutic- you get to forget what’s happening with your parent’s cancer and you focus on your music.

Music is a great escape from the real world. It lets your brain take an imaginative route away from your parent’s cancer.

Coping Strategy #4

Pet Therapy!

During such a hard time in your life it’s important to have your escape and your “me time”. Something that may help you is pet therapy. It helps your emotional, social, and cognitive functioning while releasing stress. Remember that your family is going through a whole lot of pain and stress, so it is important to support them as much as possible.

In my family, it was time for me to gain an indefinite amount of independence and control my emotions to help my family in every possible way. I always felt like I had to hide the emotions the “C word” caused because I thought it was more important if I were my parents’ support system. Only in the past few weeks I realized I had the right to feel the way I do. I started doing things for myself. Sometimes I just randomly go to the dog park (without my dog, because he’s so big I can’t handle him) and watch the dogs play because it makes me happy. Sometimes I just sit next to my big, furry four-legged friend and my worries go away. Sometimes (more like all the time) I look at pictures of my dog because he’s so cute and no matter how sad or mad or angry or frustrated I am with the world, he’ll always bring a smile to my face.

Pet therapy not only helps us kids with a parent with cancer, but it helps our sick parent too. My dog, Duke and my dad were best friends. My dad called Duke his son and made jokes referring to how he liked my dog better than his two daughters. I strongly believe during the two years my father was sick, one of the things that kept him motivated to fight the cancer was Duke. Duke had a positive effect on my dad that no one will forget. Dogs sense when something is wrong. Usually when my dad walked in through the front door, Duke would greet him by jumping on him and licking his face. During the last three months of my dad’s life, Duke knew my dad couldn’t handle his jumps anymore. When my dad was in Hospice Care, Duke would calmly sit next to him and not bother a single soul. (Duke is about 115 pounds and one of the most jumpy, friendly, rambunctious dogs ever. For him to just sit is rare.) I wish I could thank Duke for everything he’s done for my dad.

Hard Times do not Excuse Poor Decisions

Everyone faces adversity. Every single person. There are different extremes though. One person’s adversity might be not getting into their dream college of UC Berkley or Stanford and another’s might be something more real, like losing a parent to cancer. (On a totally different note- not getting into your dream school is not the end of the world. It should be a motivation to work harder in the future. Also, you can go to any school and succeed. There are always options of transferring, graduate school, etc.)

Going through a rough patch in your life is no excuse for poor decisions. I personally know many people who have had a parent with cancer (the parents are fine now) and the kids went down the wrong path of life. They stopped caring about school, relationships with friends and family, and started caring too much about drugs and alcohol.  Once  you are down that path, it is very difficult to turn around and make the right life decisions. But, it’s definitely possible. One could take the help of family or friends or even seek for professional help, like a life coach or therapist. Group therapy also helps a lot; you get to sit with a group of people who are relatively going through a similar predicament or phase of life, which then makes it easier to open up about your feelings and your hardships in life. It’s also a great way to save money!