Childhood cancer impacts the entire family, from parents worrying about their child to siblings wondering why their brother or sister is being treated differently. In 2018 World Child Cancer’s Psychosocial Support Advisor, Megan Cruise, spent three months at Yangon Children’s Hospital to understand how families and staff dealt with the psychological aspects of childhood cancer;
“During my time in Myanmar it became evident that there was very limited emotional support available to families. The lead paediatric oncologist at YCH, Dr AK, told me concerns about how healthcare workers would tell families devastating pieces of news about their child with little or no time to offer them moral support.”
Being told your child has cancer is a terrifying moment for any parent, let alone one already living in poverty and under extreme stress;
“Families were told their child has cancer, that they would have to stay at hospital for long periods or worse still, that treatment simply wasn’t available for their child. They would then be left to comprehend these words without any further help or advice.”
Whilst Megan was in Myanmar, she contacted the Founder and Director of Myanmar Clinical Psychology Consortium (MCPC). MCPC runs the only Clinical Psychology Programme in Myanmar. They provide scholarships for students and the students function as MCPC program officers with the “pay-it-forward” principle. It is a volunteer-based group and programme.
“We held several discussions with the Director of MCPC, and we have arranged for four newly qualified clinical psychologists to provide voluntary support to families at Yangon Children’s Hospital.
“This is a fantastic development for YCH and will mean families receive the support they so desperately need and deserve. It also means the clinicians can feel reassured that after delivering bad news to families they can refer families to the clinical psychologists for support.”
With this additional support, families will no longer face the fears of childhood cancer alone and instead be empowered with knowledge and care.