True or False? Unveiling childhood cancer myths

by Kadri Haljas @ 12.09.2017

True or False? Unveiling childhood cancer myths

September is childhood cancer awareness month. For us at Triumf Gamification it means that every week we are covering one topic related to childhood cancer to raise awareness. This time we’ll talk about some of the very common myths about childhood cancer.

September is childhood cancer awareness month. For us at Triumf Gamification it means that every week we are covering one topic related to childhood cancer to raise awareness. This time we’ll talk about some of the very common myths about childhood cancer. To begin with, it is difficult for everyone to filter out information that is true from all the available information on the internet. When googling cancer or any other search term related to cancer, you will find millions of websites, but unfortunately many of those websites are misleading. Don’t believe everything you see online, search for evidence-based websites where the information is supported by facts and research findings. Let’s look at some common notions about childhood cancer and check whether they are true or false.

  1. Cancer is inherited. False. Actually the causes of childhood cancer are unknown in most cases and the disease can be managed only once it has occurred. 95% of all pediatric cancer cases occur spontaneously.

  2. When a child gets cancer, it is family’s (parent’s/sibling’s) fault. False. During this difficult journey, parents sometimes start to blame themselves and think that they have somehow caused this for their child. Or siblings may think they are the ones to blame, because they have not wished well to their brother or sister. Both of these are common concepts but also untrue ones, because childhood cancer has complex biological and environmental causes that are not clearly known even to scientists.

  3. When cancer has occurred, it will change the life of the whole family. True. Child is part of the family – the system that works as one whole. So if the child (or any family member) gets sick with a serious disease, it does affect all the family members. Sometimes it is easy to start looking for someone to be angry at during difficult times. Many families experience negative emotions during the journey but nobody should be blamed for the situation.

  4. Something could have done differently in order to prevent cancer. False. As we have seen, most childhood cancers occur spontaneously for unknown reason. So it cannot be predicted or prevented. The path of thinking this way may lead to a lot of doubts, fears and anger but no one can protect their kid from getting cancer, no matter how much they would want this to happen. Unfortunately, there is no faith-based shield to protect from cancer and no food is magical enough to prevent cancer all together.

  5. Cancer treatment kills more than it cures. False. By no means is treatment easy, but in the last 40 years childhood cancer treatment has become highly more effective. The overall survival rate for children with cancer is estimated to be close to 90% today.

  6. Children with cancer are not able to live a normal life. False. Although children have experienced a normal childhood that will be changed after getting the diagnosis, it only means that they need to adjust to a “new normal”. During the treatment children most often report being lonely and isolated, also anger and fear are common emotions children with cancer feel. They might feel like they have lost their normal childhood, sometimes they become alienated from their friends. One reason for it is that kids might even think that cancer is contagious (another common myth!). But it has been proposed that strategies that aim to model normal childhood experiences may help to lessen the tremendous impact of cancer and its treatment on the lives of these children. Overall, children are very good in adjusting to different situations and their life during and after the treatment can be fulfilling and happy. Good care and supportive network helps a lot.

We hope you were able to learn from this post that there are several myths about childhood cancer that are untrue. Don’t forget to check out our post from last week and if you can, please donate to the childhood cancer society in your country. Below you will find links to relevant societies in Estonia and Finland:

Donate to Estonian cancer societies | Toeta vähihaigeid lapsi Eestis: Eesti Vähihaigete Laste Vanemate Liit: Vähilapsed Vähiravifond Kingitud Elu *Lastefond

Donate to Finnish cancer societies | Lahjoita ja auta syöpälapsia Suomessa: Aamu Suomen Lasten Syöpäsäätiö Syöpäsäätiö Sylva Ry: Suomen Syöpäsairaiden Lasten ja Nuorten Hyväksi *Kympin Lapset: HYKSin lapsisyöpäpotilaiden vanhemmat ja ystävät (Kannatustuotteet verkkokaupasta)