Supporting Children Through Cancer Diagnosis, Treatment & Beyond

Today, February 4, 2020, is officially World Cancer Day. According to the National Cancer Society, about 11,050 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2020.

When children are diagnosed with cancer, school takes a back seat as parents and doctors focus on medical treatment.  When kids are ready to return to school, things may be different. Sometimes kids need temporary, sometimes long-term support through a 504 Plan or IEP.

Cancer can affect kids in many ways, both physically and mentally. After cancer treatment is over, the effects may linger and new issues, like anxiety, may arise. Cancer treatments are necessary but may increase the risk of learning and memory problems. According to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, there are many factors that may put kids at increased risk for difficulties in school, such as:

  • Being diagnosed at a young age;
  • Chronic absences and/or extended absences;
  • A history of learning difficulty prior to a cancer diagnosis;
  • Cancer treatment negatively impacting energy levels;
  • Cancer treatment resulting in physical disabilities; and
  • Difficulties concentrating and completing work on time.

If your child with cancer, or recovering from cancer, is having difficulty with school, including anxiety, they may need additional supports.  Additional supports, modifications and accommodations can be obtained under a 504 plan or through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), depending on the circumstances.  To learn more about special education, including how to request an evaluation to determine if your child needs special education and related services, check out this post:  “How do I get my child identified to receive special education services?”

Additional Resources

Together” is a new resource powered by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for anyone affected by pediatric cancer including patients, their parents, family members and friends. Check out this helpful article, “Educational Challenges.”

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