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Keywords:

  • Children with chronic illness;
  • Expert knowledge;
  • Impact on families;
  • Lymphoedema;
  • Parental advocacy

This paper reports on a study in the UK that explored the experience of children suffering with Lymphoedema and that of their families. Qualitative data was collected from 20 children between the ages of 6 and 18 and their respective parents. Single, semi-structured interviews were used in which children and their parents were asked to share how lymphoedema impacted on their family life. Children were asked about their school experience, their dreams and their aspirations. Three categories emerged. Firstly, the negotiation of the health care system. Themes included correct diagnosis, finding robust information and reaching a knowledgeable expert. The second category explored the complex role of the parents as advocates. Themes within this category included the dilemmas of parenting and the increasing challenges as children reached adolescence. The final category involved the impact on the family unit. The first theme concerned the integration of lymphoedema into daily activities and the intrusion on family time. The second explored the impact on siblings and the final theme the changing dilemmas as children moved through the stages of childhood and faced adulthood.