Parents know only too well that the day their child is diagnosed with a chronic disease is just the beginning of the never-ending care that ensues. A child’s illness changes the family’s dynamic and while everyone adapts, often, for the child, the date of diagnosis is filled with bad memories.
My daughter Hannah was diagnosed almost three years ago at age 9 with Type 1 diabetes, a lifelong autoimmune disorder that entails daily monitoring of sugar levels and dependence on insulin. While she has adjusted, it’s a drag on her or any child to have to deal with a chronic condition, whether diabetes, asthma, depression or cancer. From completing school to medical to sports or summer camp forms, the date of diagnosis is a reminder of the illness and my daughter has at times thrown up her hands. One way to help kids dealing with chronic illness, I gleaned from a parent of a child at a diabetic camp, is to celebrate the day of diagnosis.
Hannah was diagnosed during our family’s summer vacation to Washington, D.C., in 2009. She was hospitalized and our trip ended abruptly. Last year, on her diagnosis anniversary, I took her out for a manicure/pedicure to celebrate a day that’d otherwise be a somber reminder. She said it made her feel special, almost like it was her birthday. This year my family and I are going back to D.C. to finish the trip we couldn't complete.
The celebration can be big or small. An outing to the mall, a dinner date or a gift can turn a day marred by bad memories to a day of joy. It can also boost the child’s sense of confidence and endurance and let her know she can keep fighting the good fight.