In response to the growing demand from parents, education and health sector professionals Camp Quality are undergoing the largest development in their 30 year history which will see them expand their services to children under 13 who have a parent with cancer. Camp Quality commissioned Dr Claire Wakefield from Sydney Children’s Hospital and University of NSW to undertake a comprehensive worldwide Literature Review on the support and interventions currently available to children with a parent with cancer, the largest of its kind, capturing 330 abstracts. The review found that these children urgently require age-appropriate information, a safe space to share and ‘normalise’ their feelings with other children going through the same thing and support communicating with family members.
Without age-appropriate information, the review found that children commonly understood their parent was seriously ill before their parent chose to tell them, but had misconceptions about cancer which were often more frightening than the reality of their parent’s situation. As it’s unusual for children to contemplate their parent’s mortality, this can lead to a psychological burden. Existing interventions in Europe and the US were found to reduce these feelings of anxiety and depression. Camp Quality’s Offspring Program will support children who have a parent with cancer incorporating, education and information resources, coping skills, opportunities to build resilience and respite from their parent’s illness.