About 1,300 children in Canada are diagnosed with cancer each year. The Trish Greene* Back to School Program for Children with Cancer brings free information and materials to parents and educators from the local offices of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC). The program was developed to encourage communication among parents, young patients, healthcare professionals and school personnel to assure youngsters a smooth transition from active treatment to back to school.
Informative publications, DVDs, videos and programs help explain to classmates and teachers how kids with cancer feel, why they may look different, what type of treatment they've undergone and special needs they may have on their return. All materials are available through all LLSC's local offices.
Cancer survival rates for children have improved significantly during the past several decades. Still, not knowing what the future holds is difficult for families dealing with childhood cancer. Children with cancer may face long periods of treatment, but most return to school and complete their educations. The transition may go quite well overall, but there are likely to be stressful times.
The Trish Greene Back to School Program for Children with Cancer provides free resources for dealing with the transition, such as:
- Welcome Back: Facilitating the Return to School for Children with Cancer. This education program for school nurses and other school personnel discusses possible emotional, physical and cognitive late effects of cancer treatment in children and offers numerous resources that can assist childhood cancer survivors to flourish in the school environment post-treatment. Contact your local LLSC office for schedule information.
- Pictures of My Journey. This colouring and activity book helps children ages 3 to 11 cope with the new people, situations and concerns that are part of the childhood cancer experience.
- The Stem Cell Transplant Coloring Book. This colouring and activity book is for children coping with having a stem cell transplant and for his or her siblings and classmates, as well as for children with a parent undergoing a transplant.
- Why Charlie Brown, Why? This DVD (also available in VHS format) tells the tale of a classmate who develops leukemia. Using Charles Schulz's lovable Peanuts characters, the video helps children understand what leukemia is, how it's treated and how a child recovering from leukemia feels. When a classmate teases the girl because she has no hair, her friends rally around her and help the other children understand why his remarks were inappropriate. Produced by Charles Schultz and United Media (available in Spanish).
*Before her death from cancer in 1999, Trish Greene, Ph.D., was senior vice president of Patient Services at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She was devoted to patient services for cancer patients and created the Back-to-School program. Her devotion to patients and their families will never be forgotten.