In honor of World Cancer Awareness Day, today we are going to discuss specific accommodations and advice for parents and students who are suffering with a diagnosis, treatment and remission of cancer.
Once you receive a diagnosis:
- Find a sympathetic ear. This is a very trying time, but it is important to find someone at your student’s school that can be a sympathetic ear and an internal advocate for your student. Due to privacy laws, a parent or legal guardian must be the one contacting the school. At this point, let the school know what the doctor has said, explain the treatment and tell them how long your student will be missing school.
- Keep your school informed while your child is out. Set a reminder on your phone to contact the school with an update every two weeks. This is a great way to keep them posted, stay involved and ease the transition back to school.
- Keep your child engaged with his school community. This can be as simple as FaceTime into the classroom during one of the classes so he feels connected. Ask your teacher to update you with her lesson plans, so you can provide supplemental activities, if your child feels up to it.
- Try maintaining social interactions WHILE engaging the learner in your student. Allow for visitors if your child feels up to it. Start a book club with young members of your religious community, sport team or civic activities. I was lucky to be involved, as a tutor, mentor and advocate to a bright and talented young student undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. This young girl was thrilled when we brought in a weekly reading group of her classmates and girl scout troop to read and discuss together. We even picked books and stories featuring heroines recovering from illness.
- Keep up with schoolwork (if you can). The number one priority is recovery, but if your child feels up to it, keeping up with as much schoolwork as possible will benefit the adjustment back into school.
To remission and beyond:
- Keep organized. Prepare a dossier of documentation, doctors’ recommendations and treatment notes in a book or file with plenty of copies. Create a highlight sheet to give to every teacher, administrator, school health staff member or counselor your student interacts with or who can help your student adjust more readily and rapidly. If you have the time, meet with each person or ask your “sympathetic ear” to arrange a quick meeting, where you upload all your information to a group of willing teachers and health staff.
- Slow and steady Due to some treatments, your student may not study the same as before treatment. Keep this in mind as you move through the adjustment period of returning to school. If your student’s cognition and energy levels leave him or her not doing well in the classroom, talk to an administrator or professional about an IEP or 504 plan.