How to Raise a Young Cancer Warrior

Zackery Hurtz

When dealing with children with cancer the goal is usually to mask and hide the big scary facts. Most of these masked facts aren’t things adults know how to handle so they keep them from their children but this is the wrong choice. Please tell your children what’s going on with their own lives, minds and bodies during the battle with cancer.
I grew up with cancer and brain tumors and my Dad and Grandparents included me in almost all medical appointments and surgical consultations. This helped make what I was going through more logical and I knew why I had my head ripped apart and skillfully put back together. These appointments and meetings with doctors gave me a voice to ask questions and a lot of times I was asking questions my family couldn’t think of or didn’t want to ask.
At age six I was diagnosed with a brain tumor after already dealing with cancer at age two. My family was growing use to this sort of life in some ways and even I was forced to adapt to this hospital life style. You might think telling a young child that they’re going through something most adults can’t handle is brutal or that they’re going to drop out of school for a little while is dream crushing. the truth is that if you build a relationship with your child on falsehoods when the time comes you’ll have done more long term damage to the kids spirit.
As a family you’re all going through this together facing the unknown and facing the possibility of death. If you build a false foundation you start increasing the stress of the adults which trickles down to the dude or dudette fighting for their lives and this puts unneeded stress on their minds and bodies. open your minds and arms as a family and take the walk together down the road and in the end you’ll have a strong supportive network to fight the good fight. Allow the child to take part in his or her diagnosis and keep in mind that over sheltering can damage the immune system on a mental and physical level.
I do not hold my Dad and Grandparents responsible for my forced growth from child to adult at age six, the only thing to blame for this is cancer, tumors and any other life threatening disease. You aren’t protecting your children by lying to them or faking hope until it becomes real, instead you’re causing long term psychological damage and as I said before pushing a wedge between yourselves during an already stressful time. Surround yourselves with good memories, positive and uplifting books, movies and music. I’m not saying go crank up religious music but you should enjoy music together and allow songs to become anchors for the good times. Every time you hear that song you’ll flash back to the time spent together as a family.
When you as a kid know something isn’t right with your body it casts big shadows over everything you do. Why am I in school learning about something that won’t save my life, why can’t I be home playing with my dog and visiting with my family and what’s the point of doing chemo if I’m only getting sicker? the distraction method parents use to take away the sting of the needle doesn’t work in real life, you always know that you’re sick which means you can’t go outside and play or you can’t go swimming and hang with friends.
I loved watching stand up comics when I was feeling down or uncomfortable inside my own skin. About ten minutes into the show I’d be feeling better and laughing by fifteen minutes. Its the small things in life that make you smile, puppy breath, reading a great science fiction novel, reading Lord of the Rings, creating gifts to give to your friends and playing an instrument. My Dad asked me if I wanted to learn to play an instrument when I was fighting the brain tumor in 1996 and I said yeah that sounds fun. So I chose the piano because I’d heard it was one of the harder instruments to learn and I figured if I could learn to play the piano I could play everything else no problem. that logic actually worked later on in life and I picked up guitar and bass in my early twenties.
Channeling feelings of anger, confusion, frustration and fear into creative outlets really helped me work through the problems I was facing. I learned how to make bracelets, necklaces and I started telling myself stories in the theater of my mind. this is where I realized I wanted to be a writer and tell stories from different angles. I had access to lego’s and would bust out some interesting models that would impress quite a few people. I had access to different magnetic toys and building sets and that took up a good chunk of my time in the hospitals while I was being filled with life saving poison.
To the people who created Lego’s, Knex, Magnetics and Erector Sets I owe you a huge Thank You and my Dad would agree. I spent day after day building space ships, buildings, vehicles and whatever else could be spit out of my creative mind. toys like these keep the fingers moving and the brain building vital connections which help keep some of the downsides to chemo under control.
I’m going to wrap this up but I will write more on being a child diagnosed with cancer and brain tumors in up coming articles and videos. If you have questions please feel free to contact me via Face Book or E-mail.

Hello and welcome!

the battle against cancer is hard fought with a smile on your face and good friends and family at your side each day.
Hello and welcome to the Cancer Warrior Seminars. Cancer warrior is a common term used to describe people who are diagnosed with cancer. The goal of CWS is to offer information and support groups for anyone battling cancer, supporting those who are diagnosed with cancer and friends and family who aren’t sure what to expect. Cancer is a negative word in our language and this negativity invites more fear and weakness without even lifting a finger, the goal of The Cancer Warrior Seminars is to show you cancer doesn’t need to be terrifying.
Please understand that I don’t have a magic cure I’m sharing my experiences and giving all of us a safe place to find comfort in the community.
So why am I qualified to put this group together and why am I putting my personal experience into the public’s view? My name is Zack and at a month old I was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma (cancer of the eyes), the cancer quickly spread and the next two years I fought for my life with the help of family, doctors and science. At the age of two I had lost both eyes but the cancer had been stopped but at what cost? The radiation I received as an infant would come back and start another round with cancer at age six.
The second round of cancer was the worst in my opinion, I was six years old and fully aware something major was wrong. They gave me 3 months to live and chemo was started ASAP. A year later and several surgeries later I was given the clean bill of health. That would last until age twelve when small tumors started popping up and presenting as false positives for cancer. In the end I’ve had at least thirty or more surgeries, I’ve lost both my eyes and I walk through life with chronic nerve pain and nerve damage.
My goal is to show others that it isn’t all sadness and suffering and that you can live strong enough to enjoy life. Terminal diagnosis are real and can be terrifying, I had a false positive terminal diagnosis at age twenty and it put my life on hold, I’ve lost my Grandmother and Grandfather to lung cancer and would like to help those who are friends and family of fallen warriors.
We are here to help each other and to support those who are just starting down the path of cancer at stage one or if you’re at stage four we’re here and welcome you to the community.
Feel free to make an account to leave comments and to interact with others on the site.
This is a family oriented site, please keep user names G rated and all comments and interactions are moderated for the safety of all ages. Some pages will be 18 or older and will not have these restrictions. these types of pages will usually consist of adults talking about the heavier side of cancer.

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