Cancer is a disease that makes victims and their families rethink their priorities. In this scenario, thinking about the future always comes with anxiety because a patient needs to focus on the present and the fight they are facing.

After treatment, many survivors continue with their lives and return to mid and long-term activities such as studying, saving money, investing time in a relationship, and looking for new developmental opportunities. In contrast, others prefer to concentrate on the day-to-day and choose short-term endeavors because of their fear of relapse.

An excellent way to deal with anxiety about the future and obtain more confidence to make long-term plans is by joining support groups and counseling where the survivor can meet with people who have similar stories and experiences.

Also, the survivor can perform activities such as exercising, art, playing video games, and reading books to help tremendously with their mental recovery. Literature is well known to open doors to new worlds and have experiences that anyone can relive countless times.

Each patient chooses a different path

However, how patients deal with cancer during and after their treatment is something that they need to determine themselves, and the family needs to respect that. This doesn’t mean the patient’s decisions cannot change and eventually turn into long-term plans, but it is a process that might take time.

As many people have experienced, cancer is a family illness, not an individual one. For this reason, a patient needs to feel that their family supports their view of the world and the approach they have towards it. Many different feelings can go through the mind of a cancer patient, and the family might discover itself changing their view altogether.

If these feelings are not addressed the consequences might affect cancer patients and eventually compromise their general health condition.

Combating anxiety for the future must be faced in the right way

It is also essential the patient has proper tools for managing their emotions. Due to psychological stress, it is crucial to avoid harmful ideas and negative thoughts that might complicate the cancer treatment. A healthy activity to cope with those ideas is to keep a journal of daily thoughts, create stories, or perhaps even create a fictional character a patient can use to channel their feelings.

Some patients find calm when sharing their thoughts with other patients or people who have cancer and have taken new steps in their life.

For example, the talented SNL actress Vanessa Bayer, who had lymphoblastic leukemia when she was 15 years old, mentioned that her illness inspired her love for comedy, making her take steps toward that direction, turning this personal therapy into a career years later.

Afraid of Knowing

Former patients of cancer might also feel anxiety because of a fear of relapse. If these feelings are not addressed, the consequences might affect their lives and eventually compromise their general health condition.

The best option is to visit a therapist (psychologist) because many patients are reluctant to share their thoughts with their family and close friends. The therapist will also help them deal with excessive concerns about their health. We can reduce anxiety effectively if we trust professional help and let negative thoughts disappear.

Remember, fear is of no use if it is not to be overcome. There are plenty of alternatives and resources that can help patients and survivors of cancer to live a life without anxiety and instead choose openness to the future.

By Eduardo Guillen

Can kids be cruel? Most definitely. However, it is important to remember that their cruelty is often based not on any inherent evil, but on the bully’s experience at home, a lack of proper parenting, or a lack of empathy towards others.

Definition of Bullying

 

 

Bullying is the exertion of power from one person or a group to another, often in the form of physical or psychological violence. Bullies take advantage of any power imbalance, whether that be by strength, popularity, social status, or other factors.

There is also a proclivity in some kids to be more violent than others. Here, we need to clarify that there is a difference between being violent versus being mean or rude. Violence is exerted to hurt another person, whether physically or mentally while being mean or rude is lacking manners with little to no power imbalance involved.

Bullies can use a multitude of resources to harass others, such as verbal and nonverbal messages, social rejection, stigmatization, and nowadays, even social media, aka cyberbullying.

Why Do Children Bully?

According to Trudy Ludwig, in her book Confessions of a Former Bully, a bully is a child who displays bad behavior. It is important to separate the bad behavior from the intrinsic identity of the child and to stop considering bullies as inherently bad people. Bullying often occurs because something is occurring at home or around the area of influence where the ‘bully’ lives.

However, the reasons why kids engage in bullying are usually to gain social status, to maintain power and control, or get attention from their peers. This often occurs when there is no supervision.

Years ago, bullying was considered an action performed by kids filled with insecurities. While this has truth to it, there is a lot of evidence in academic research that suggests that also bullying occurs due to a child’s desire to achieve popularity.

Furthermore, we need to ask ourselves why bullies have this desperate need for attention. Usually, it is because they have seen similar interactions within their social groups and feel the need to emulate such behavior.

The Victims

 

The victims of bullying vary, but these kids are usually the ones considered special or different from the rest of the class. In this group, we can include creative or intelligent students, isolated children, children with a different appearance, children with a disability, and children from a different religion.

Also, it is important to note that the bully and bullied can change according to the situation. For example, a child that is not as smart as the rest of the students can be bullied for being deficient in math or English, while popular kids could be victims of other bullies if they represent an attention threat.

How to Help

 

 

To reduce bullying in schools, adults need to be aware of the situation and intervene consistently; not only once, but every time it happens. Adults also must hone their senses to detect when a real case of bullying, not rudeness, happens and act immediately and accordingly.

Finally, teachers and parents must not consider bullying as something that ‘just happens’ during childhood and teenage years.

Adults need to identify the children involved in bullying incidents, identify needs, create a culture of comprehension and kindness, monitor the areas where bullying has occurred, and create dynamics where professionals can assess these situations to improve kids’ social behavior.

 

By Eduardo Guillen.

baby with a book

The challenges to assist a child going through cancer and other life-changing illnesses are numerous. Therefore, children need continuous physical and emotional support from their parents.

A children’s book offers a gateway from the pain and emotional stress pediatric cancer involves. This aid can give the minor enough material to combine fantasy, opportunity, hope and provide a hint for the children to express themselves.

 

Color and movement


Books bring many benefits for children. Among these, we have the development of social skills and personal expression, which children will later use in the teenager, and years later, adult world, where they must face more complex social situations and fast decision making. To reach this objective, artists use vibrant colors, ink, dialogue boxes, and well-defined traces to deliver an exciting and entertaining adventure.

The children, unaware of all these signs, will begin learning codes and cultural references that they will use to solve challenges.

On this point, images and signs help children develop non-verbal skills by associating attitudes and reactions to different activities. In a children’s book, these features are displayed through graphics mounted one after the other in a sequence of events, easy to absorb for the children, giving the appearance of movement and time streaming. 

Learn and Apply


Furthermore, the vibrant colors, so popularly used to decorate children’s spaces, have a clear purpose. Different hues help connect brain pathways producing reactions and uncovering visual preferences in evidence.

The child’s first decision-making usually starts during this learning stage. At that moment, children start connecting what they see in the books with what they will see in real life.

Part of this learning is also proposed by artists who, through their work, show different degrees of space, distance, and alertness; while at the same time generating the illusion of movement that helps children relate signs to circumstances and actions.

 

 Color and Shape stimulate children’s minds.

 

Fueled by imagination and its constant search for knowledge, books help children grasp real day-by-day problems while teaching them how to use vocabulary and social skills.

Vocabulary and social skills


A book offers a new dimension full of stimulus to children’s minds. Fueled by imagination and its constant search for knowledge, books help children grasp real day-by-day problems while teaching them how to use vocabulary and social skills.

There is also the matter of fitting into a group. On this subject, even if many parents do not want to consider it as an essential matter, humans have a natural need to fit in a group, or at least to find a place in society. In this case, if children notice there is an obstacle to being included in a group they aspire to be, they will turn frustrated and blame themselves.

Furthermore, cancer is one of those diseases that will change children’s perception of themselves and how he interacts with social groups around them.

For sure, parents want to protect their children all the time by keeping them in a safe space, which is vital during the early stages of their upbringing. Still, mom and dad must also provide knowledge, through information and interaction, to prepare their kids to face social challenges independently.

Motivate children through imagination


By reading books, narrative elements such as plot, challenges, and expectations together with colorful images and entertaining characters, children who have cancer can explore different experiences and travel out of their beds fueled by their imagination.

This effect makes emotions such as frustration and the impossibility to play, given the circumstances, fade away while developing creativity and strengthening their self-confidence.

 

At the same time, books also introduce children to social skills that could operate as an excellent introductory stage to familiarize the minor with plastic arts such as painting, coloring, sculpting; or even acting and singing.

An important note about this subject is that children, by themselves, will decide how to express their needs for social interaction and to which degree they prefer to do it.

 Some children and Introverts and others extroverts therefore both express their emotions in different ways.

Here is where we can find introvert and extrovert personalities and how they prefer to engage within groups.

As mentioned before, a book provides a wholesome environment for new vocabulary, which means more tools for children to express their feelings in more complex ways. In other words, if you combine these skills, you can open a gate for creativity and expression.

 

Books help to develop a personality

Metaphorically, a book could also be a person. If I ask you to name your favorite book, you probably will revive memories you experienced when you first read that piece of literature. You will address a first impression, a voice, a tone, and a feeling after having a pleasant reading.

 

Book characters can be used as tools to effectively communicate with children.

Children also get this feeling, much more if the book can project the children’s needs and feelings, even the not-so-happy ones. Having a ‘talk’ with a book can unlock hard feelings and expectations that may have been unnoticed by parents.

Therefore, fictional story characters can help children vent their emotions through coincidences and similarities with their story. In this regard, children will not feel threatened or nervous about engaging in social interactions because they control the situation and decide when to stop that interaction.

After the children have read the book, they can discuss their content freely, which opens a way for parents to talk about similarities and how the characters process their fears and condition.

Also, if the parents do not know how to engage with their kids or do not find the right words, a book can help them connect and relate to their loved ones.  A parent can personify one of the book characters and interact with their children. They can also use those ‘disguises’ to correct the kid’s behavior or empower them in their recovery process.

 

By: Eduardo Guillen