Program helps childhood cancer survivors overcome learning deficits

CALGARY – Eighteen-year-old David Scott is in his final year of high school and he’s thinking about his future.

“I’ve always wanted to work in the medical field, especially because of my past. I’ve been thinking about (becoming) a nurse or paramedic.”

Scott is a childhood cancer survivor and the past that has inspired him to pursue a career in medicine also threatens to hold him back. Like up to 70 per cent of childhood cancer survivors, Scott suffers from long-term health issues related to the more than 30 rounds of treatment he experienced as a toddler. Some of those issues impact his ability to learn.

“I don’t get stuff done as fast because it takes me longer to comprehend what I’m reading and stuff like that.”

“It’s almost an invisible disability,” said Kelly Kerr, manager of Volunteer & Outreach Programs for Kids Cancer Care. “(Survivors) might go back to school and things look good but then hormones kick in and suddenly their executive functioning isn’t working properly.”

Kids Cancer Care already offers scholarships to childhood cancer survivors but after speaking with parents, organizers decided there was a need for more support. Thanks to a $35,000 gift from the Canada Post Community Foundation, Kids Cancer Care has just launched a new education support program. The program offers primary and secondary school age cancer survivors access to free tutoring, while educating their parents on how to help their children deal with the learning disabilities cancer treatments have caused.

“We’ll also help families transition their children to ‘normal’ schools,” Kerr explained. “The school systems have so much support but you really have to advocate in some cases. How do they do that? I think that’s where we can come in and help.”

Watch the vide here:

© Shaw Media, 2015