Helping Children When A Family Member Has Cancer: Dealing With Treatment

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How can relatives and friends help my children?

Some families are lucky to have a large network of people to call on for help. If this is not the case for you, an oncology social worker or nurse may be able to connect your family to community resources that can help fill the gaps. Sometimes the issue is not finding help, but accepting it. Many people hate feeling like a burden to others and would prefer to solve all of their problems alone. If you are one of these strongly independently people, this is your chance to learn that accepting help can be good for both you and for those who give it. Cancer is a major illness, and no one can, or should, try to get through it alone.

People who want to pitch in are most often helpful with your children. Look at your children’s activities. Some examples of where others may be able to help include getting to and from music lessons, being picked up at school, or having a sleepover. Make a list of these errands and tasks, and decide which of these a friend or relative could help with. Ask your friends to be honest and tell you if the request is something they can do. Then let people help. Your friends and relatives will feel good knowing they are helping, and you can feel good about your children keeping their regular routines. Prepare your children for these changes, and tell them that they are only until you feel better again.

Sometimes friends or family may make things harder because they don’t know how to help. Patients may discover their friends withdraw from them because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing. Break the ice by telling your friends it’s OK to ask about your cancer. If you don’t want to talk about it, you can tell them that as well.

Last Medical Review: 08/07/2012
Last Revised: 08/07/2012