The dangers of communicable diseases to immunosuppressed children are discussed in Chapter 11, Common Side Effects of Chemotherapy. To prevent exposure, parents need to work closely with the school to develop a chicken pox, shingles, and measles outbreak plan if the school does not already have a disease notification plan in place. Parents need to be notified immediately if their child has been exposed to chicken pox, so that the child can receive the varicella zoster immune globulin (VZIG) injection within 72 hours of exposure.
Several methods can be used to ensure prompt reporting of outbreaks. Some parents notify all the classmates' parents by letter to ask for help. If the parent has a good rapport with the teacher, she can have the teacher report any cases.
My daughter's preschool was very concerned and organized about the chicken pox reporting. They noted on each child's folder whether he or she had already contracted chicken pox. They told each parent individually about the dangers to Katy, and then frequently reminded everyone in the monthly newsletters. The parents were absolutely great, and we always had time to keep her out of school until there were no new cases. With the help of these parents, teachers, our neighbors, and friends, Katy dodged exposure for almost three years. She caught chicken pox seven months after treatment ended and had a perfectly normal case.
My son was diagnosed at age 14. He was starting ninth grade, the last year of junior high. He missed about a third of that year He was able to keep up, thanks to some terrific teachers and a very cooperative administration, not to mention being a really motivated kid. He hated missing school and would go even when he didn't feel very good, just to say he'd been to school that day, even if only for two periods. Our oncologists gave him the okay to be in school, saying that infection in kids his age was usually from bacteria they were already carrying around, so other kids were not a big threat, provided they weren't sick.
Other parents enlist the help of the office workers who answer the phone calls from parents of absent children.
We asked the two ladies in the office to write down the illness of any child in Mrs. Williams's class. That way the teacher could check daily and call me if any of the kids in her class came down with chicken pox.
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Although nobody gets a parenting manual or bible in the delivery room, it is our duty as parents to try to make our kids as well rounded, happy and confident as possible. It is a lot easier to bring up great kids than it is to try and fix problems caused by bad parenting, when our kids have become adults. Our children are all individuals - they are not our property but people in their own right.