Maybe you know a child with a chronic illness directly or maybe you just want to support them in spirit. Certainly you’ve seen fundraisers to help families with a sick child. We can’t tell you where to send your money, but a real, concrete action you can take is to get yourself vaccinated for Covid-19! Medically fragile and immunocompromised children need herd immunity.
Also, get your healthy children all their regular immunizations! Children with chronic illness are more susceptible to diseases of all kinds. They often can’t get immunized themselves and need the rest of us to provide a line of defense against outbreaks of diseases like measles or whooping cough. If you don’t have insurance for regular well child check ups and vaccinations, you can get childhood vaccinations through the Multnomah County Primary Care Clinics at low or no cost, or get vaccines and other health care for K-12 students through the Student Health Center at your child’s school at no cost.
Cancer is awful and thinking about a child you know being diagnosed with cancer can be devastating. In this One Bad Mother podcast episode, the hosts talk with Jessica Phillips Lorenz, mother of a pediatric cancer survivor, about the experience of having a child diagnosed with cancer and how friends and family can help. Often, it’s by stepping up to help with really practical stuff like house cleaning, caring for siblings, and food delivery. She suggests doing these things without having to be asked and continuing to do these things over the long haul of the illness.
If you have a child with a chronic illness, the diagnosis definitely requires you to level up on your parenting skills. Children’s Hospital of Colorado offers advice on parenting a child with a chronic illness. The Swindells Resource Center at Providence offers resources to families with children experiencing many sorts of disabilities and chronic illnesses. They have a lending library and offer many events and webinars available to anyone, not just Providence members. Take care of your own mental health with a support group or counseling. All health insurance plans will cover mental health care - it’s the law! Call 211 if you need low or no cost suggestions or referrals.
If your child is coming back to school after a long illness with conditions they need to manage, these tips from The Mighty will be helpful. You’ll develop a plan with your school to provide your child with the support they need to get through their day. This is called a 504 plan. Understood.org is a great website with extensive information for parents to guide you through the process of getting a 504 plan and working with schools.
And here are a couple more resources, if you'd like to investigate further:
- MedLine's Living with a chronic illness - reaching out to others
- Center for Disease Control's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion