pediatric cancer

3 Ways I Got Cooper’s Mind Off Pediatric Cancer Treatment

When the side effects of cancer treatment make our children sick, it can be frustrating. All we want to do is make them feel better.

Though we can’t completely take away the pain, there are some things we can do to distract them from it. So, from one cancer parent to another, here are 3 ways we cheered up our son, Cooper, when he was dealing with the side effects of cancer treatment.

1. Find Your Child’s Comfort Routine.

It’s good for our kids to have something they can look forward to each day—something they can count on that will help them feel better. It’s similar to the way adults look forward to that cup of coffee.

Of course, not everyone likes coffee, just like not every child chooses the same comfort. For Cooper, his comforting routine was being rocked to sleep at nap time with his favorite blanket.

For another child, perhaps it would be extra reading time, uninterrupted zone-out time to listen to music, doing a craft, or sitting outside in the sunshine.

Like us, you might find that the comforting routine your child chooses doesn’t always match their age level. I felt a little silly rocking a 4-year-old to sleep. There were times when I wondered if I needed to break him of the habit.

Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t take away something that made him feel better just because I thought he might be too old. It’s what he needed to get through that time in his life.

Cancer treatment didn’t last forever. When he started to feel better, Cooper quickly adjusted to not being rocked to sleep.

2. Get Playful: Bring Out Some Games.

When on cancer treatment, often our kids don’t have the energy to move around and play like they used to. However, you don’t want them sitting around thinking about how sick they feel, either. That just makes them feel worse.

Playing games can be a good distraction. Cooper was pretty young, so he liked repetition. We started out playing mostly Uno. When he got bored with that, we found a different card game.

You can look online for all sorts of card game ideas. Figuring out how to play new games can be fun all in itself. Eventually, Cooper got tired of card games, so we moved on to board games.

Through our hours of play, Cooper learned his colors and numbers, and developed a wonderful mind for math.

pediatric cancer

3. Television: It Has Its Good Points.

When you are in isolation for cancer treatment, the days can get very long. Typically, I don’t like my kids watching too much TV. However, during cancer treatment, you don’t have as many other options as you normally do.

When blood counts are low and immunity is down, you can’t just go to the park or take them to the library. I found that Cooper watched a lot more TV during cancer treatment than he normally does.

We tried to keep the shows as educational as possible, encouraging him to watch things like the kids’ shows on PBS. Even when we weren’t paying for a TV subscription, he could watch these for free using the PBS app or PBS website, which was nice.

Of course, Cooper’s favorite show was “Tom and Jerry,” so those DVDs saw plenty of use, too.

Now that Cooper’s off treatment, his time watching TV has gone down to a normal level. After all, who has time to watch TV when you feel healthy enough to run around and play?

Surviving cancer treatment often means doing what we need to do in order to survive. That doesn’t always look normal to us, and sometimes, it can cause parents stress or guilt.

However, it’s important to remember you are doing the best you can to help your child, and treatment won’t last forever.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Jenni DeWitt
I’ve been a cancer mom since February of 2012 when my 2-year-old son, Cooper, was diagnosed with leukemia. I'm excited to connect with you here at Lionfighters and on

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