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In an alliance you discover together what your child needs'.

Eline was only five years old when she was diagnosed with acute leukaemia. In the book 'Child & Cancer', Annemiek Kuijer, as a mother and child psychiatrist, describes what happens next. Her message: cooperate with the treatment team and stay in tune throughout the process.
In mid-February 2017, lightning struck Annemiek Kuijer's family: daughter Eline had acute leukaemia. As soon as she was diagnosed, Annemiek started writing. This way she got her thoughts in order and could process all the impressions. Almost everything was painful and uncertain. You try to carry on with your family life, while that terrible illness throws everything into disarray. But soon the strength also returned, and even happiness. After the bad luck of the diagnosis we often got good news and were lucky that Eline recovered. The treatment started in the Emma Children's Hospital. Lianne Haveman was Eline's paediatric oncologist and still is in the Máxima Center. She recognises the fear of losing your child as a parent. Lianne: 'I understand that very well. Even if the chances of recovery - as fortunately in Eline's case - are pretty good.

Personal cooperation
An important theme in the book is 'alliance in illness'. Annemiek: 'You form a treatment team together: the family, the doctors, nurses, all the other care providers. But also the teacher and the nice lady at the food counter. And your sick child itself. Every child - and every family - is different. So make the cooperation very personal. The alliance does not arise automatically, says Annemiek. Together you discover what your child needs. As parents, we got to know Eline all over again, as it were. What is important to her? What does she want? Lianne: 'Together you enter a process and you have to dare to adjust it. Only then can you really connect with child and family.

Taking children seriously
Annemiek has experienced that her daughter was always taken seriously, even when she was only five. Eline also took care of that herself. Annemiek: 'As a mother, you first think: I'll take her by the hand and show her how to do it. But Eline has often discovered for herself what works best for her. Once, she had to be poked for the umpteenth time. The nurses were chatting away. Then Eline said: please be quiet, I'm concentrating on my breathing! The nurses immediately took this very seriously. And rightly so, because never underestimate what sick children can control themselves.

Dare to ask for help
According to Annemiek and Lianne, resilience and connection are key words. Not only children are resilient, also parents often have no idea how strong they are, according to Annemiek. This does not mean that you always have to be 'tough', she adds. Don't be afraid to show that you're not coping and ask for extra help. Lianne recognises this all too well. Fortunately with Eline everything went well. But sometimes there is so much misery that it can take all the strain. Part of the alliance is to keep looking for what you can do together for the child and the family.

More information
The book 'Child & cancer; professionals and family together strong' was published in March 2021 by Lannoo publishers (ISBN 9789401475358) and can be ordered in bookstores.