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4 May 2007 PR 07/61

Helping children to cope with cancer

Research by Loughborough University into the information needs of children of cancer patients could help young people learn how to cope with the emotional turmoil of having a sick parent.

PhD student Suzanie Adlina Mat Saat, who is based in the University’s Department of Information Science, was inspired to conduct the research after joining the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) as Marketing Manager.

While working at the NCSM, Suzanie noticed that many cancer patients who visited its Resource and Wellness Centre in Kuala Lumpur would bring their children along. She soon discovered that there was a lack of support material for children of cancer patients, and that they were often the least informed when it came to sickness in the family – particularly when it concerned their parents.  

She said: “Many parents are so concerned about their own health needs that they unknowingly push their children aside. Many also want to shield their loved ones from fear or hurt, but this can be very harmful to children.

“Children can begin to blame themselves about their parent’s illness, or feel resentment towards their mother or father for pushing them away. In some cases children can develop a dislike of hospitals or doctors because they associate them with their parent becoming sick.”

To try and bridge the information gap Suzanie is carrying out a survey of cancer patients with young children in Malaysia. This will involve working with both the parents and the children to explore a number of innovative information solutions.

It is hoped the findings of the survey will help her to develop more material for children that can be used to explain to them about cancer, both in Malaysia and across the world.

She added: “I want to contact as many people as possible in Malaysia who have experienced cancer and who have children. I want them to contribute to the project so that the end result will be able to reach out to provide the much needed support for children everywhere.”

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Notes to editors

  1. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

    It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

    Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

    In the 2006 National Student Survey, the University gained a top five place, with nine out of Loughborough’s 23 departments topping their subject tables. Loughborough was also placed 6th in the 2007 Times Good University Guide and was named winner of the 2006 THES award for the UK’s Best Student Experience. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other university

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