Burzynski Clinic Helps Teens Cope With Parents’ Cancers
The emotional impact of cancer is immediate and far-reaching for every member of the family, from the one who has been diagnosed to even the youngest children, but according to doctors at the Burzynski Clinic, teens often receive the brunt of it. This is due to a large number of factors, but the main culprit is the fact that once many individuals reach their teen years, parents as well as extended family often expect teenagers to be more independent and able to cope with illness on their own. The impact on younger children is often mitigated by the fact that parents understand there is a lot to explain to children. Younger kids are also cared for by extended family and family friends, which gives them a sounding board that many older children of cancer patients simply do not have.
There are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration by families going through the process of cancer recovery, said doctors at the Burzynski Clinic. It is vital for families to understand that in addition to the one who has received the diagnosis, the emotional health of every family member is important to take into consideration. Teenagers, while they are at once searching for their own independence and building their own lives outside of their family, are often torn as they are drawn back into the familial sphere and expected to take on more duties and responsibility. The National Cancer Institute has even addressed this issue in their guide for teenagers whose parents have cancer, along with several other important points.
Teenagers are often forced into the role of caregiver, not only for the parent affected with cancer but for the healthy parent. If there are younger children in the family, they are also often forced to take on many of the parental responsibility of their younger siblings, whether it is cooking them dinner or ensuring that they get to school in the morning. It is vital that families discuss these roles, say doctors at the Burzynski Clinic, and that parents understand the difficulties that teenagers may face when they are made to feel as if they are responsible for this level of care.
There are many things that families can do to make the journey through cancer less of a challenge. Doctors at the Burzynski Clinic say that the first step is for families to foster an open and honest discussion of cancer – not only of the disease, but of the steps that will be taken throughout the recovery process. Teens can feel empowered when they are invited into the cancer discussion and when they are able to know what treatments are taking place and what to expect of treatment. Likewise, it is important that teens are not given a show of false optimism during this process. Communication is key to ensuring the emotional wellbeing of every individual in a family during a fight with cancer.
Burzynski Clinic Emphasizes Need for Communication
It is also important, say doctors from the Burzynski Clinic, for teenagers to understand that their lives do not have to revolve around a cancer diagnosis. Too many young individuals are made to feel as if it is necessary for them to dedicate their lives to their families and to their parents’ treatment. Many will feel guilty for wanting to do basic things, such as participate in extracurricular activities at school or go out with their friends. While teenagers may need to take on some extra responsibilities, this does not mean that they cannot take a break from the cancer diagnosis every so often. Having activities outside of the home – and outside of the diagnosis – can ensure that they have a mental break from dealing with the disease and that they are equipped to handle life after the cancer treatment process, whatever the outcome of that may be.
It is also important for parents to speak with their teenagers about what the teenagers think is best for themselves, say doctors at the Burzynski Clinic, and for parents to recognize when discussing cancer and cancer treatment is beyond their abilities. Sometimes it may be necessary for teenagers to seek outside help in the form of a counselor, a therapist, or even a support group. This can give them an outlet for their emotions, especially if their feelings are negative and they feel unable to discuss them in front of their parents.
Above all, the most important thing for both parents and teenagers to recognize is that it is okay to experience any of the emotions that they may be going through. Whether that is anger, depression, or any other emotion, nobody should feel guilty for having the emotions that they do. These feelings are common, even when emotions such as anger are directed toward the person with the illness. What is dangerous is when these feelings are left unchecked. Teenagers who understand that these are normal feelings are better able to cope with them. Doctors at the Burzynski Clinic state that in any situation with a family member that has cancer, it is important to be open and honest on all levels of treatment, from the clinical side of things to the emotional.
The Burzynski Clinic is a state-of-the-art facility in Houston, Texas that focuses on the use of gene-targeted therapy to develop personalized treatments for cancer patients. Founded in 1977 by Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, M.D., Ph.D., the clinic has a history of utilizing “out of the box” thinking in treating these diseases.