Many of the disabilities of survivors of childhood cancer are invisible. To help children and teens reach their true potential, changes in intellectual functioning and social skills must be diagnosed early and addressed. Students whose style of learning has changed as a result of treatment need their parents and teachers to explore the many excellent methods to enhance their ability to learn.
It is also important to remember that for surviors of childhood leukemia with learning problems from treatment, higher cognitive functioning often remains intact; it is just getting the information in ("processing") that is impaired. Children who were gifted usually remain so; children with average abilities retain them. Their performance may be slower, they may require extra instruction in memory enhancement and organizational skills, but they can still achieve to their potential. There are thousands of survivors in their late teens and twenties who are successfully attending college, or who have graduated and are pursuing professional careers w
The following passage was written by Brigit Tuxen and is reprinted from Candlelighters Youth Newsletter, Fall 1994, Vol. XVI No. 4.
My diagnosis of high-risk ALL gave me a 50 percent chance of survival. Cranial radiation and three years of blood tests, IV, chemotherapy, bone marrows, and spinal taps were my prescription. A positive outlook pushed me through the bad times. Somehow I understood that all the hurt was for a good reason, and that it would make me well.
Call it a miracle, luck, or determination to live—I survived! But I would soon realize that I would never be like all the other kids. The radiation that destroyed cancer cells also harmed some of my brain cells. For the past five years, I have had slight difficulty with math and science courses at school, but with the help of a tutor I've managed to pull through challenging honors classes with As and Bs. However, I am often the last to finish class assignments or tests. It is very frustrating and often embarrassing. The SAT has become my ultimate challenge. Despite this minor disability, I continue to set high standards for myself. I feel extremely lucky to have beaten this disease, and I want to do anything I can to help those who are fighting cancer or some other hardship.
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