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Old 12-22-2004, 07:57 AM   #1
mrsbornkuntry
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OT: Children cancer survivor's behavior

Since I have gotten a ton of great info. on these boards I was hoping someone could let me know their experience with this. My son is a cancer survivor, he was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 22 months old, after treatment for 6 months he was in remission for 15 months, then he relapsed, had more treatment, then a stem cell transplant. Now it's been 19 months since the transplant and he's doing great, no cancer, started school and immunizations etc. but my problem is his behavior. He's always had a strong will (which served him well when he was sick), but he's been showing a lot of disrespect for authority (me and dh, teachers, other adults), he has extreme mood swings and he's not on steroids (actually he was better behaved on steroids). We tried to set limits for him when he was in the hospital, but of course he was spoiled somewhat, but alot of these behaviors don't seem to be from being spoiled, he's just extremely emotional. He's also easily distracted and very impulsive.

What I'm wondering is if I'm just dealing with the result of his hospitalizations or if I should try to get him evaluated by a psychologist or something. I have 5 children and he's right in the middle and just behaves much worse than the other children. I read an article recently about Ritalin being helpful in helping cancer survivors with this, but I'm very reluctant to put any more drugs into his little body if this is something I can modify just by changing how I care for him. Has anyone else had experience with this?

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Old 12-22-2004, 11:00 AM   #2
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My DD has an extremely strong will. She is special needs (has a complex congenital heart defect). She is stable in her medical condition so far. She is 7 yrs. old. She also doesn't listen to authority at home (mom and dad). she does listen and respect authority at school, tho. She will have tantrums at home when she doesn't get her way, I mean BIG tantrums( kicking, screaming,hitting). When she was an infant, she was hospitalized for her first 4 months of life, due to her heart surgery and complications from the surgery.
My dh and I are planning to go to a behavior counselor to find out how to handle her situation. My husband and I have been giving her time- outs when she misbehaves. Oh, also my dd has a twin brother who is also special needs( he is high- functioning autistic). So I see a lot of sibling rivalry between my twins because my dd always wants the attention. She has been craving for attention since Day 1 of her birth. For my dd, her strong will has been there since Day 1.

For your son, it could be he is attention- getting, also. He also has 4 other siblings to fight for attention. Your son was also used to getting one-on-one attention at the hospital. I don't want to diagnose anything here, just I'm guessing what you have posted. You could talk to his pediatrician first and see what he/she says about your son's behavior. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to look into behavior counseling. This is just my thoughts.

I know for me, I could use a nanny from that Nanny 911 show! lol. I do get a kick out of watching that show because I can relate to some of that behavior the kids' have. lol.

Have a great Disney trip!

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Old 12-22-2004, 12:10 PM   #3
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Thanks for your opinion. Where do you go for behavior counseling? Is that through like a psychologist or doctor? That sounds like something that would be a good idea for us to try.
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Old 12-22-2004, 12:52 PM   #4
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I think its prob a combo of lots of things. I was diagnosed with Leukemia when I was 5 and I also went through a "mean streak" that I eventually grew out of.

One thing that I notice in some C*Kids (cancer kids) esp with young ones is that they just dont understand whats happening and its so totally overwhelming both getting sick and then the recovery period, adjusting back to normal life that they express themselves inwhatever outlet they find easist. Some kids act out and misbehave while others become more inverted and depressed.

Often things like play therapy and other forms of therapy can be very helpful to understand the kids view of things. Knowing how the child really looks at things (often times it comes out as onion layers, piece A helps to figure out piece B) can help to stop problems-

Most hospitals have support groups that I would look into. They can be helpful

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Old 12-23-2004, 01:13 AM   #5
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Sorry it took me awhile to respond back.
My dh, I, dd, and ds have been referred to a non-profit counseling center about 2-3 miles from where we live. Actually, my dd's SST (Special Service Teacher) from her school referred me to this counseling center. She has been hearing me complain about dd's behavior for 2 yrs. now that she referred me to this certain counseling center. The school district I live in refers parents and children to this same counseling center. I guess in Jan. we'll see how everything goes with our counseling sessions.

Best wishes for you and your family.

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Old 12-23-2004, 02:49 PM   #6
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Good luck, roseprincess.
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Old 12-23-2004, 04:18 PM   #7
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We recommend two books: "Raising your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, and "1-2-3 Magic" by Thomas Phelan. The advice and methods for discipline and behavior changes has been positive and effective for our Young Delegation. Counseling can be helpful; your school may have a psychologist, and your insurance may provide for professional sessions. Changes do not happen overnight, but with love, understanding and patience, your son can happily perservere.
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Old 01-01-2005, 07:39 PM   #8
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Thank-you for the advice. I'm going to check my library this week for those two books and see what I can learn. "Spirited" is definitely a fitting description of Jordan! Right now his teacher seems to have a handle on him, but he is acting out more as he gets more comfortable in the school setting. DH is in the Army so I think our insurance will pay for professional counseling if he is referred by his pediatrician, but I think I will see if some changes in MY behavior will help first.

Disneyland_Emily, thanks for you input, it's great to hear from a survivor with first-hand experience. Jordan doesn't really understand what he's been through because he was so young when he was first diagnosed and although his older siblings knew at the time that it was life-threatening, he has no idea, except that his blood was sick. This may sound strange, but a hospital support group wouldn't be helpful to me, it would serve more as a reminder of a part of our lives that I feel we're ready to move on from. I hope that makes sense.
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Old 01-01-2005, 09:10 PM   #9
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My daughter is in remission of Retniblastoma, a form of eye cancer, in which she lost her left eye too. She was diagnosed at 9 months old, and is now 4 and a half. She is getting to be a bit rebellious, but what 4 year old isnt? I do know that she will be stronger from this experience and that she has a very "I can do it" attitude with a touch of shyness now and then!
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