Cancer Narratives: The Stresses of Having Childhood Cancer and What Helps Children Cope

Carrie E. Brintz, SIT Study Abroad

Brazil: Public Health and Community Welfare


There are many stresses of having cancer as a child, such as pain, fear of treatment, not understanding the illness, and missing school many times. It is important to understand what is difficult for children with cancer and what strategies help them to cope positively. My study, along with volunteer work, was conducted in Itabuna, Brazil, in a house run by GACC, an organization that supports children and families with cancer. Parents of children with cancer were interviewed to find out what difficulties their children have with the illness and treatment process and what helps them cope with those difficulties. Findings show that children have fear of treatment and pain, they miss their homes and families, and school life can be difficult. Communication, distractions and playing, and the community/school life at GACC are all helpful for children’s coping with the illness. The study suggests the importance of medical providers, parents, and teachers facilitating the coping of child cancer patients by providing them with appropriate support, environment, and resources.