Many cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy can become immunocompromised – this means their immune systems are very weak, and they are prone to sickness and infection. For children with weakened immune systems, a flu virus or the common cold can be detrimental to their health. Lucky, there are some simple things you can do to lessen the risk of passing along dangerous germs. Even if you aren’t close to someone with cancer, you can help keep these kids safe.
Get your flu shot. The flu can devastate the health of someone whose immune system can’t fight it off. By getting the flu shot, you decrease your risk of getting the flu as well as the risk that you’ll pass it on to someone who can’t beat it like you can.
Develop good hand-washing habits in your family. Teach everyone in your house when to wash – after going to the bathroom, before and after meals, after playing outside and after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose.
Ask before you visit what you can do to lessen the risk of infection. Before you visit a child who is immunocompromised, take steps to make sure you aren't bringing germs with you. Wash your hands, use sanitizer or wear a face mask if that’s what the child's family wants you to do.
Don't visit if you're feeling sick. If you're planning to visit someone who has a weakened immune system but you don't feel well, it's a good idea to reschedule. Even things that don't seem like a big deal, like a case of the sniffles or a scratchy throat, can be threatening for a child who is immunocomprimosed. If you've promised to visit but are now feeling sick, maybe offer to video chat from home instead.
Source: American Cancer Society
Want more tips on how to support families facing childhood cancer?
For more ideas and advice on how to support children fighting cancer and their families, download our guide Beyond “I’m Sorry”: Supporting a Family Facing Cancer.