How to Use Chemo Duck

Parents and caregivers can use Chemo Duck to supplement the education a child receives from a child life specialist or nurse. You should now know that you have a valuable role in a child’s cancer treatment. Your role as your child’s primary educator is as necessary as the doctor’s role. With the help of Chemo Duck you can make cancer treatment less confusion and frightening for your child.

Children will naturally use Chemo Duck to role play their way through situations that make them nervous, we hope to give you the skills to encourage this interaction and use it to create a dialogue with your child about their fears and anxieties.

We recommend that you use a toy doctor kit with your Chemo Duck for the best play therapy results. You can also find printable activities that are both thought-provoking and educational. These print outs are designed to entertain children and promote conversation between adults and children. To access the printable activities, visit our For Kids section, where you can also watch a video about Chemo Duck.

Personalizing Your Duck
Because Chemo Duck belongs to you, you can personalize him in any way you like. You may want to make additions to him so that he mirrors your child’s appearance more closely. Give your child’s duck a name and make him a part of your family and your child’s medical team.

TIP: Clothing that fits Chemo Duck is available at several craft stores, toy stores and Build-A-Bear workshops.

Feeding Tube
If your child is nervous about the placement of a feeding tube you can show them that Chemo Duck can lead the way. You can sew a feeding tube onto Chemo Duck and, together you are able to understand what the tube will look like, how it functions and how it will help your little one feel stronger and get better.

Exerting Control Over Situations
Children understandably get nervous when they need to have their port accessed. They can have the nurse access Chemo Duck first to help ease their fear and anxiety. This will give them some control over the situation and brings them into their comfort zone. This method can be used with any medical experience children are anxious about.

Explaining Line Care
One of the biggest adjustments for young children is having a chemotherapy port or Hickman catheter. Working with a nurse or child life specialist you can explain to your child how important it is to keep your line clean and dry and not to play with it.  This message can be reiterated at home. Chemo Duck helps to normalize the placement of a port and help your child to become accustomed to it.

Simulating New Experience
Working through upcoming procedures and tests relieves anxiety and prepares everyone for what to expect. This can be done with the doctor or nurse and then practiced at home until you all feel comfortable. You may want to get a toy doctor kit or medical equipment (depending on the age of your child) to help with simulating medical care. Some children respond better to having procedures if Chemo Duck goes first. You can also use boxes to convert into MRI or CT scanners to practice procedures at home.

TIP: Build-A-Bear makes a soft medical kit that can be used with very young children.

Working Through Concerns
Many children have trouble getting used to everyday hospital activities such as having their blood pressure taken or temperature taken. By using a toy doctor kit or borrowing disposibile items from the hospital you will be able to work with Chemo Duck over and over again until you are all more secure with the medical equipment.

Comfort from Chemo Duck
A well as education for you and your child, Chemo Duck provides comfort and reassurance for your child. Through treating Chemo Duck your child is gaining confidence in the hospital setting and learning to trust the medical staff by taking on the role of a doctor or nurse. Encourage your child to explore medical play and use Chemo Duck to start conversation about uncomfortable situations.

Siblings, Friends and Family
Parents should be encouraged to use Chemo Duck to help answer questions from siblings about treatment. Parents can purchase a play medical kit to continue play therapy at home. Anything the parents can do to ease the worry and confusion for siblings will be helpful. Chemo Duck is also a great tool to help siblings understand the new medical equipment now attached to the body of a brother or sister. With Chemo Duck, the siblings can touch and understand the medical equipment without the worry of germs. Chemo Duck is great to use for explanation to friends and family members. Some children may feel empowered if they are able to use their duck to explain what is happening to them.

Talking to Your Child
It is vital to build the child’s sense of control over Chemo Duck. In order to emphasize that the child is in control you must be careful about your choice of phrases. At this time, the child needs to find a coping strategy of their own. If Chemo Duck assists the child by becoming a comfort item and provides a sense of security, then a goal has been accomplished.

Try to pose questions rather than offering suggestions:

  • How does Chemo Duck get medicine?
  • Can you show me how you would take care of Chemo Duck?
  • How do the nurses take care of you?
  • Does Chemo Duck need his/her blood pressure taken?
  • How do you make Chemo Duck feel better?