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Background: Childhood cancers have been on the rise globally. Parents of affected children have to cope with pressures and stresses of treatment often associated with a significantly increased risk of psychosocial issues.
Objectives: To explore the experiences and psychosocial issues of parents whose children were diagnosed and are undergoing treatment for cancer.
Methods: This qualitative study was conducted between June and November 2018. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews held with 27 parents whose children were being treated for various cancers at the Paediatric Oncology Unit of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Nigeria.
Results: Prior to diagnosis, knowledge of respondent about childhood cancers was deficient. Shock, disbelief and anxiety were often experienced when diagnosis was made known, while fear of the unknown and fear of death were significant concerns. Challenges at the workplace, especially lack of concentration and frequent absences were causes of added distress to mothers, while having a support group was a perceived need to help parents cope better. Positive behavioural changes in families were identified in the course of the child treatment.
Conclusion: Parents caring for children with cancer face a wide range of distresses. There is need to empower healthcare providers as well as community members on ways to support these parents and help them cope with their child's illness and treatment.