• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 6s

The hidden scars of cancer: families struggle with post-traumatic stress

By Ivanhoe Newswire 5:39 PM January 23, 2014

The life-threatening diagnosis can leave families feeling fear and helplessness

WILMINGTON, Del.  (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Just like a soldier returning from battle may experience post-traumatic stress, so too can the loved ones of cancer patients. The life-threatening diagnosis can leave families living in intense fear, overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness, and avoiding people or places that trigger bad memories.

When 12-year-old Sammy Bradly began falling asleep at baseball practice, he knew something was wrong.

“I just wasn’t feeling the same. I didn’t feel like me,” Sammy told Ivanhoe.

He was diagnosed with AML leukemia.

“Honestly I pretty much fell to my knees and blacked out,” Annie Bradly, Sammy’s mom, told Ivanhoe.

He endured six months of chemo.

Sammy said, “I met a lot of people in the hospital and I was the only one to walk away alive,” including losing his best friend Noxah to cancer.

“He was the only person I knew that would understand how I felt,” Sammy said.

Four years now in remission, the experience has not been forgotten.

“I know that these guys don’t know, but there are days where I just start crying for no reason at all,” Annie explained.

Intense fear still plagues Sammy’s mom.

“What do I do? We’re okay, but are we okay?” Annie said.

Dr. Anne Kazak says these traumatic stress symptoms are more common in parents than people know.

“It might be bad dreams or nightmares. It might also just be that you’re walking down the street and all of the sudden you are back in that moment,” Anne Kazak, PhD, ABPP, Pediatric Psychologist, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, told Ivanhoe.

One study of 171 mothers and fathers of cancer patients found all but one had post-traumatic stress, closely related to PTSD; something Dr. Kazak says affects about one in three parents.

She says her best advice is to focus on what you can control.

“It’s almost never helpful to worry too much in advance,” Dr. Kazak said.

Also, Dr. Kazak recommends finding support.

“Reflect on the fact that you are in a war against cancer,” Dr. Kazak explained.

It is a fight Sammy’s family accepts.

“It’s just a huge part of who I am today,” Sammy said.

There are things that parents can do to help with traumatic stress symptoms. Relaxation techniques such as visualization, deep breathing, yoga, and meditation may be helpful. Both healthcare professionals and parents looking for information about medical trauma can log onto www.healthcaretoolbox.org.

Latest Stories

  • Sports

    At Great AK Shootout, Wiggs lifts Seawolves to 71-65 win over Drexel

    by Jake Edmonds on Nov 28, 14:08

    The University of Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball team earned a second round win in the GCI Great Alaska Shootout Friday, defeating Drexel 71-65. The Seawolves were led by the junior stand-out Suki Wiggs, who had 33 points in the win. Wiggs is proving to be a huge asset for head coach Rusty Osbourne and the […]

  • News

    In Fairbanks, borough suspends ride share payments after no one signs up

    by Associated Press on Nov 28, 12:25

    Residents aren’t getting on board with ride sharing in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (http://bit.ly/1YzWBoS) borough officials and Enterprise Holdings have agreed to suspend payments for a program that no one has signed up for since the company was hired in September 2014. Borough transportation manager Adam Barth says he […]

  • Crime

    Anchorage police seek wanted man, Dajon Hale

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Nov 28, 11:58

    The Anchorage Police Department is asking for the public’s help finding 26-year-old Dajon Hale, who currently has two felony warrants for his arrest. Police say in June, Hale was pulled over for speeding in a construction zone in the area of E. 56th Avenue and Lake Otis Parkway. The officer then discovered Hale was on probation […]

  • News

    Red Cross of Alaska speaks out for Giving Tuesday

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Nov 27, 22:48

    After Thanksgiving, shoppers have a number of opportunities to save big: first there’s Black Friday, then Small Business Saturday and finally, Cyber Monday. Many use the sales in stores and online as a chance to get deals on Christmas presents for their loved ones, but the Red Cross of Alaska says Giving Tuesday is another […]

  • News

    Thousands turn out for Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony in Downtown Anchorage

    by Daniella Rivera on Nov 27, 22:37

    Friday night, thousands packed Town Square Park for the annual AT&T Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony, marking the official start of the holiday season in Anchorage. Alaskans enjoyed free hot cocoa and cookies, kids got to meet Santa Claus and his reindeer, and Alaskans gave back through donations to Toys for Tots. Live music was provided by […]

  • News

    Eagle River women turn to Kickstarter to fund indoor dog park

    by Bonney Bowman on Nov 27, 20:42

    Thousands of Alaskan dog owners know around this time of year it can be tough to get your dog enough exercise. Whether it’s cold and icy or wet and muddy, conditions aren’t always ideal for a long walk. That’s what inspired Alyssa Oehmke and Melanie Wallace to found the Alaska Canine Club, an indoor dog park. […]

  • News

    Locally-owned Anchorage stores brace for ‘Small Business Saturday’

    by Liz Raines on Nov 27, 18:18

    Although Black Friday had a low turnout in Anchorage this year, many local businesses say they’re banking on Saturday sales. “‘Small Business Saturday’ is always the big push, people come out in full force which is awesome, we appreciate that, completely,” said Annie Ciszak Pazar, owner of Bella Boutique in Spenard. “You know they call […]

  • News

    Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting suspect in custody, 3 dead

    by CBS/AP on Nov 27, 18:10

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – An alleged gunman surrendered to police Friday, five hours after he opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. Police Lt. Catherine Buckley said two civilians and one police officer were killed. The officer was from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police department, which was among the local […]