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Dr. Noll conducted a school-based study to help brain tumor survivors be more included by their peers. Photo by Sherrie Smith.
Going back to school after months or years spent in treatment for childhood cancer
can be difficult for any kid. But for many brain tumor survivors, it’s an even bigger challenge.
Brain tumor survivors are often left with physical and mental scars from their tumor or its treatment — things like slurred speech, jerky movements, memory problems, and learning difficulties, according to Robert Noll, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist and St. Baldrick’s Supportive Care Research Grant recipient at the University of Pittsburgh.
These same kids are viewed by their peers as “different” and often have difficulty forming and maintaining friendships, Dr. Noll explained. “We know from doing work in classrooms previously that they are isolated, victimized, don’t have friends and aren’t well-liked, as a group,” he continued, adding that this puts them at increased risk for getting picked on and bullied. “I felt like I had an obligation based on the data to try to think of doing something that would make a difference.”
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