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World Childhood Cancer Day - An interview with the German Childhood Cancer Aid

What is meant by "Childhood Cancer"?

The term "childhood cancer" does not describe a specific cancer, but includes all types of tumors that children can develop. Cancer in children differs from that in adults in terms of frequency, type and progression. This is due, among other things, to the different types of formation of the tumours. The most common types of cancer in children are leukemia, tumors of the lymphatic system and brain tumors. They affect more than two-thirds of children with cancer.

What does the diagnosis mean for these children?

The everyday life of children changes as soon as they suspect cancer and at the latest when it is diagnosed. From now on, examinations and therapies are in the foreground. These are both physically and mentally very stressful and require a lot of strength from the children and their families. However, there is a positive outlook: in Germany, four out of five children suffering from cancer are successfully treated.

What does this mean for families?

It is not only the affected children who are facing a major change, their relatives are also in an exceptional situation overnight. Torn out of normality, everyday life suddenly revolves around the sick family member in the clinic. Parents often feel helpless, siblings neglected. In order to support the sick child, but also to master the time together as a family, open interaction with one another is important. Psycho-oncological care offers important support during treatment. Such care is offered by most hospitals from the start of therapy. It can also be done through cancer counseling centers. Those affected and their relatives receive information and support for dealing with the disease in this consultation.

Is chemotherapy in children comparable to that in adults?

Chemotherapy is used in both children and adults with the same goal: to inhibit the growth of tumor cells with the help of drugs. That being said, each therapy is very individual and varies from person to person. With children, one focus is of course to minimize possible late effects. Fortunately, thanks to the success of therapy optimization in recent decades, formerly ill patients can now be examined and observed for possible long-term consequences. Research in this area is just beginning.

How do children deal with the diagnosis?

This is very individual: every child is different and every cancer is different. While some children with unimagined strength and optimism even make this time easier for their parents, most need special care. Every child initially reacts to the new situation with fear. It is therefore important that psychosocial treatment is provided in addition to medical treatment. This helps with mental processing of the disease and the resulting psychological and social problems.

What is your job?

The German Cancer Aid and its foundation Deutsche KinderKrebshilfe support a large number of projects that support affected children and their families. In addition to medical research projects, the expansion and conversion of children's cancer centers, as well as parents' homes and aftercare clinics, are also funded.

By funding clinical and clinical research in the field of pediatric oncology, we help advance the development of new therapies for children with cancer. In this way we have made a significant contribution to the great successes of medicine. One example is the treatment of children with leukemia: while in the 1980s a diagnosis for children was still tantamount to a death sentence, today the chance of recovery is 80 percent.

The German Cancer Aid finances its activities exclusively through donations and grants from the population. We receive no public funds.

What are the ways to help?

There are many ways to support children with cancer and their families. If you know an affected family, ask if help is needed and how you can specifically help. One way of temporarily relieving the relatives is, for example, to pick up siblings from school or to take them on excursions. For many families, however, one thing is particularly important: being able to rely on friends who will listen, take their time, comfort and encourage you.

With a donation to the German Cancer Aid or its German Children's Cancer Aid Foundation, you help advance research and finance important aid measures. werden/spender-service/jetzt-spender/

In addition to a transfer, there are numerous ways to actively collect donations: For example, you can use your birthday or another celebration as an opportunity to collect a contribution with friends and family or start your own charity campaign. We'll gladly assist you. Werden/aktiv- Werden/

How did you come to your job?

I started my training at the German Cancer Aid in 2013 after my grandmother died of cancer herself in 2012. I felt the need to do something to fight cancer.

Your job is very emotional. How do you manage to "disconnect" yourself emotionally?

Cancer has many faces. This is shown by the numerous experiences that those affected and their families report to us almost every day. It is a great help for me to talk about it with my colleagues and my family. This allows me to process a lot and give myself some mental freedom again.

What is your mission with your work?

Our goal is to fight cancer in all its manifestations. This is also my personal goal.

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