Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die Life is a broken winged bird That cannot fly.
—Langston Hughes parents frequently describe the return of their childs leukemia as more devastating than the original diagnosis. Parents feel betrayed. They think that they put their child through hell for nothing. They are scared, for they know that any recurrence is serious. The anger is back—since they did everything the doctors said, why did the cancer return? They are afraid that if the first battery of treatments didn't work, what will? And the unspoken but most crushing feeling of all: If my child dies, how will I survive?
If your child has relapsed, one point is well worth remembering: You are not the same person that you were at diagnosis. You've been through this before, so you know how to get medical and emotional support. You have a relationship with the medical team, and you can speak the language now. You have developed friendships with other families of children with cancer. You know that something that seems insurmountable can be overcome, one day at a time.
This chapter explains how doctors determine if a relapse has occurred, describes some of the emotional responses parents have, and gives information about how to decide on a treatment plan. Several parents share their stories about how they managed after their childs relapse.
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