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 isn’t finding help, but accepting it. Many people hate feeling like a burden to others and prefer to solve all their problems alone. If you’re one of these strongly independent 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 that has a huge impact on any family. No one should try to get through it alone.

People who offer to help can be good resources for keeping your children’s lives as normal as possible. Look at your children’s activities. Some examples of where others may be able to help include getting to and from music lessons or sports activities, being picked up at school, or even 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 or something they’d rather not do. Then it’s the hard part – let them help. Your friends and relatives will feel good knowing they’re helping, and you can feel good about your children keeping their regular routines. Prepare your children, and tell them that these changes are probably only until you feel better again.

Tips to help you, your friends, and family talk to each other about cancer, so that you can feel more at ease when facing it together can be found in Talking With Friends and Relatives About Your Cancer. You can read it online or call us to have a free copy sent or emailed to you.

Last Medical Review: 01/29/2015
Last Revised: 04/27/2015