Childhood Cancer Ireland (CCI) contacted me last year. They wanted to create a podcast to support families fighting cancer.
Hey came to me from the work I do as a host At any time podcast for everymum.ie. It has been downloaded almost 500,000 times since 2019 and I have had to deal with many of the challenging experiences of parenthood such as miscarriages, baby loss and other issues.
At first they only wanted one episode, but I pointed out that a podcast couldn’t really do anything about the problem and we needed to build a series. I went back to them with a suggestion of five episodes. So last year we did five episodes. We had one that covered an adult survivor who had cancer as a child; a family that had lost a child; a family who had cancer and whose child is in remission.
We had an episode with an oncologist and we also had an episode with a play therapist who talked about how we allow a kid with cancer to stay a kid; how to give them another childhood.
That came out last September and did incredibly well, so Childhood Cancer Ireland came back to me this year and said they had a grant to do another season and they wanted to do 12 new episodes. We made them over the summer and they came out this month, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. We’ll also have a few more episodes before the end of the year.
We want to expand the opportunity for many different people to share their experiences with childhood cancer. People have such unique experiences, and then there are so many experts and areas of expertise to cover. For example, one episode is with the principal of the school at Crumlin Hospital who is responsible for the education of children in long-term care.
It was such an incredible conversation about how important it is to keep the connection between the child and their education, how that sets a marker for that child where they have a future to think about.
In another, we speak to a child who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 11 and now, at 15, is still battling it. We did the podcast together with him and his mother. He gave his perspective on the mental challenges he experienced during those very formative years. He talks about wanting to feel like a part of his boys, not just a kid with cancer. He was in remission but now it’s back. It’s very challenging for a child to process that level of disappointment and delve deep enough to find the courage to believe they can make it again while trying to be a normal teenager at the same time.
One episode discussed how a child who is technically in remission or cancer-free can mean an emotional breakdown for a parent. They explained that when your child is diagnosed, you get into the system, you’re put on this treatment plan and it’s tough, but you’re part of that rhythm. Then, if you’re lucky, you’re told it’s all gone and there’s good news – but suddenly you go back into the world and parents can suddenly feel very alone. That’s when much of the trauma and insecurity comes up for the parents.
Parents also spoke on the podcast about the impact on siblings — trying to shield them from the fear, trying to keep them fun anyway, trying not to feel guilty about being apart for an extended period of time with the child with cancer.
We also talk about the practicalities and impact of childhood cancer on careers. Sometimes people have to be off the job for up to two years and still get bills coming in. We can’t ignore that.
The aim of the podcast is to address the issue of childhood cancer, but also the impact it has on the whole family. Childhood Cancer Ireland is a charity founded by parents – parents who have seen it all. That makes the difference.
Gold Ribbon Conversations is available wherever you get your podcasts. To donate to Childhood Cancer Ireland, whose mission is to bring health justice to children with cancer in Ireland, text GOLD to 50300. Visit childrencancer.ie for more information
In conversation with Sarah Caden
https://www.independent.ie/life/family/family-features/childhood-cancer-affects-the-whole-family-our-gold-ribbon-conversations-podcasts-explore-all-aspects-of-that-42003959.html “Childhood cancer affects the whole family. Our Gold Ribbon Conversations podcasts explore all aspects of it.