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1/26/09: Emerson Hospital offers workshop for children dealing with parent’s cancer diagnosis

Emerson Hospital will offer a free family workshop for children ages 3-15, titled “Helping Children Cope When a Parent Has Cancer.” Facilitated by Emerson Hospital social services, the pediatric intervention team, and nurses from Commonwealth Hematology-Oncology and Massachusetts General Hospital radiation oncology, the workshop (for parents and children) will be held on April 4, 2009, from 9:00 am – 12:30 pm with a pre-workshop orientation for parents on March 31, 2009, and a follow-up for parents on April 7, 2009.

“The workshop provides a tremendous opportunity to help both parents and children better cope with a cancer diagnosis,” said Dr. Jon DuBois, hematologist-oncologist at Emerson Hospital and chair of the cancer committee at Emerson’s Bethke Cancer Center. “There is a real need to specifically focus on how kids deal with and conquer their fears related to a parent’s diagnosis of cancer. Emerson is unique as a community hospital in taking the initiative to provide such a program. It will truly enhance the diversity of cancer-related services that help to define the Bethke Cancer Center.”

The purpose of the workshop is to provide an opportunity for children to share, through structured activities and guided discussion, their experiences of coping with a parent’s cancer. In addition to helping children identify the small and larger changes that occur when a parent has cancer, the program also aims to help children feel less isolated by meeting peers in similar circumstances. “We want to help children recognize feelings and share coping strategies,” said Kay Liebmann, nurse coordinator of Emerson Hospital’s pediatric intervention team. “Through this workshop, children can express any unaddressed questions and concerns, and we can help them clarify misunderstandings and confusion about cancer and its treatment through education and a tour of the outpatient treatment facility.”

The workshop will benefit parents, too. “Parents may share their experiences of helping children cope with the effect of cancer on a family,” said Mallory Harrison, child life specialist on the pediatric intervention team at Emerson Hospital. Parents will also meet with group leaders in a follow-up to the children’s sessions.
The three-session program will include an evening session prior to the Saturday workshop. The introductory session provides an opportunity for parents to meet the leaders of the children’s workshops, review the content and format of the Saturday workshop, meet parent participants, and ask questions. An evening session will also follow the three-hour Saturday session, allowing parents and staff to share information and feedback from the workshop.
At the heart of Emerson’s comprehensive cancer program is the Bethke Cancer Center, which combines talented cancer specialists and state-of-the-art technology in a convenient, comfortable setting. The Bethke Cancer Center is committed to providing compassionate and supportive care for patients and their families. By partnering with Massachusetts General Hospital, the Center is able to provide the latest, highest-quality treatment close to home and family.

For more information on the workshop, call Emerson’s pediatric intervention team at 978-287-3422.