Medical Minute: Coping With A Parent's Cancer

By: Casey Taylor
By: Casey Taylor

When Kevin Bobka watches Katie play, he does it with a heavy heart.

"I feel what I'm doing to my kids, you know, as far as what they are going through," Kevin says.

Kevin has a brain tumor.

"We, um, we look at one day at a time, sometimes it's one hour at a time," says Diana Bobka, Kevin’s wife.

While she copes with her own feelings, Diana has to help Katie understand hers. She enrolled Katie in a program that uses play and expressive arts therapy.

"Children who constantly pick up our swords in the playroom and want to fight, they're telling us something about where their feelings are," says Dr. Martha Libster of the University of Colorado.

Therapist Martha Libster says young children need an outlet like this.

"It gives them an opportunity to express themselves the way they do best, because they're learning language and so often, they don't even know the words for certain feelings."

To help children release stress, Libster says; get on the floor with them.

"That's a huge sign to children that you understand them, you care for them, you love them."

She also recommends craft projects. When Katie made a puppet, it opened Kevin and Diana’s ears.

"She said, ‘I want it to have ears,' and I said, ‘Why?' 'Because I want you to hear me. I want it to hear what I have to say.'"

Kevin and Diana are holding onto hope. He's outlived the doctor's predictions by more than a year.

"I don't want to leave them behind, I care to much about them."

For more information, contact:

Dana Cantarano
University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center

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