Bust Pediatric Cancer Patients’ Boredom

By Les Friedman, Mikey’s dad
Boredom is part of pediatric cancer patient treatment

Boredom – of all the side effects related to pediatric cancer patients’ treatment, boredom is probably not high on the worry list. But for kids, boredom and loneliness can significantly add to the struggles they face every day trying to cope with their treatment. To them, hospitals can feel like a whole lot of waiting around. And on days when they are feeling a little better, the boredom can be excruciating.

Mikey wrote about this very thing in one of his journal entries. “Believe it or not, the days when you are feeling the best are the hardest days in the hospital.” he wrote, “You might think that being extremely sick, vomiting, and in pain are the worst. But on these days, and I’ve known many, at least you know that you need to be in the hospital. And you are glad to be there. However, on the days you feel well, time ceases to be an indifferent dimension and instead is a force exerting its presence over your body. The clock ticks slowly. Have you ever seen an hour hand actually move? I have.”

What to do while in the hospital

So, with this is in mind, the question is, what to do with all those long hours in the hospital? Specifically, how can your child cope with the thousands of mind-numbing minutes that tick by on the clock as they sit waiting? Waiting for the next chemo bag to be hung, waiting for the next blood draw to occur, waiting for the hand on the clock to move to the next hour when treatment is finally done for the day.

On the positive side, fortunately there are resources available to help kids cope. In fact, Mikey created one such resource. With this intention in mind, he built Mikey’s Way Foundation to address the boredom and help buffer the psychological challenges of cancer treatment. He certainly knew how critical it is for kids to engage in something they enjoy, something that helps connect them to their world, the world beyond the hospital walls.

Mikey’s Way electronic gifts help keep patients connected to the outside world, to stay in contact with their friends, check in with their school mates and communicate with family members. Moreover, they help combat the boredom and facilitate some sense of normalcy. Equally important, they distract them from the pain, the fear, the nausea and the loneliness.

Resources to bust the boredom

We did a little research and found some interesting sites that offer tips on how to bust the boredom for pediatric cancer patients while at the hospital. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of them out there. All it takes is a little detective work and a block of time searching the internet. So, here’s a few we found that we like.

American Childhood Cancer Organization provides a comprehensive list of resources and tools to help families cope. They also offer a list of websites for kids with cancer.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia offers play and recreation suggestions during hospitalization.

Roswell Park has a list of books to help children cope with cancer.

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital offers a page that provides an overview of what typical developments you should expect in your child, their needs, and how to help them during their hospitalization at different ages.

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has an activity book: “Activities for Kids with Cancer”.

National Children’s Cancer Society provides a couple of downloadable coloring/activity books and other resource publications.

Gabes My Heart offers a fun activity book for kids living with cancer.

Hope Portal has a list of support resources for childhood cancer.

Want more resources on how you can cope? Check out some of my recent blog posts in Parent to Parent.