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Packing a suitcase may be the last thing on your mind when you learn your child may have cancer. But knowing what to bring to the hospital can provide comfort for your child and peace of mind for you as parents. You may want to let your child begin by packing the things most important to him or her, and pack the remainder of the list yourself.
You should also write down and have the following information on hand:
In the rush to focus on getting your child the care he or she needs, it’s important not to forget to take care of things at home. These include:
You should come prepared to stay, even if it may not be needed. If your child is having an operation or procedure involving general anesthesia, you may be asked to remain overnight.
Overnight lodging options vary depending on where your child is seeking treatment. Hospital staff, including social workers, should be able to help you find lodging that is close to the treatment facility.
Some hospitals and facilities have short-term housing options available for families on site. Placements are usually based on length of stay, medical needs, and availability. Some communities have options like the Ronald McDonald House which provide meals, private bedrooms, and playrooms for children and families at a low- or zero cost for up to three months. For stays longer than 90 days, your family will want to explore apartment-style lodging.
Most treatment facilities have cafeterias for patients, families and staff. If your treatment facility has temporary housing options, they may offer meals on site or provide meal or grocery gift cards that can be used by patients and families at hospital cafeterias, cafes, and other approved locations.
Each treatment facility is different. Contact a social worker at your treatment facility if you have questions about housing needs, meals, or costs.
A social worker or case manager can help identify resources based on your family’s unique needs.
Reviewed: June 2018