Helping Children When a Family Member has Cancer: Understanding Psychosocial Support Services

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More information from your American Cancer Society

We have selected some related information that may also be helpful to you. These materials may be ordered from our toll-free number, 1-800-227-2345, or read on online at www.cancer.org.

Dealing with cancer and its effects

After Diagnosis: A Guide for Patients and Families (also in Spanish)

Coping With Cancer in Everyday Life (also in Spanish)

Anxiety, Fear, and Depression (also in Spanish)

Helping children when a parent or relative has cancer

It Helps to Have Friends When Mom or Dad Has Cancer (booklet for elementary school children)

Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer: Dealing With Diagnosis (also in Spanish)

Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer: Dealing With Treatment (also in Spanish)

Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer: Dealing With Recurrence or Progressive Illness

Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer: Dealing With a Parent’s Terminal Illness

Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer: When a Child Has Lost a Parent

Books from your American Cancer Society

The following books are available from the American Cancer Society. Call us to ask about costs or to place your order. The books for children are intended to be read to and discussed with the younger children in the age range.

Cancer in the Family: Helping Children Cope With a Parent’s Illness (for adults)

Because…Someone I Love Has Cancer: Kids’ Activity Book. (best for ages 5 to 10)

Let My Colors Out (best for ages 4 to 8)

Nana, What’s Cancer (best for ages 5 to 12)

Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo-Boo (about breast cancer, best for ages 2 to 5)

Our Mom Has Cancer (best for ages 5 to 12)

Our Dad is Getting Better (best for ages 5 to 12)

Our Mom is Getting Better (best for ages 5 to 12)

Couples Confronting Cancer: Keeping Your Relationship Strong (for adults)

The American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Family Caregiving, 2nd Ed. (for adults)

National organizations and Web sites*

For adults with cancer

National Cancer Institute
Toll-free number: 1-800-422-6237 (1-800-4-CANCER)
TTY: 1-800-332-8615
Web site: www.cancer.gov

    Offers reliable information on cancer and its treatment, as well as information on dealing with cancer

Planet Cancer
Web site: myplanet.planetcancer.org

    An online community of young adults (age 18-40) with cancer who share information and thoughts on the cancer experience

Cancer Hope Network
Toll-free number 1-877-467-3638
Web site: www.cancerhopenetwork.org

    Matches adult cancer patients with trained volunteers who have undergone and recovered from a similar cancer experience. Free, confidential, one-on-one telephone support provided by volunteers. Support for family members is also available.

CancerCare
Toll-free number: 1-800-813-4673
Web site: www.cancercare.org

    Telephone and online support groups are offered for anyone with cancer or affected by cancer, including family members and caregivers

LIVESTRONG
Toll-free number: 1-866-235-7205
Web site: www.livestrong.org

    Provides information on cancer; also offers SurvivorCare, a one-on-one support program through which cancer survivors can get counseling and referrals to local resources and also address financial, insurance, and job issues

For children and teens who have a parent with cancer

Cancer Really Sucks
Web site: www.cancerreallysucks.org

    An internet-only resource designed for teens by teens who have loved ones facing cancer

CancerCare for Kids
Toll-free number: 1-800-813-4673
Web site: www.cancercareforkids.org

    Online support program for teens with a parent, sibling, or other family member who has cancer. The toll-free number is for anyone who has cancer or who has a loved one with cancer.

Kids Konnected
Toll-free number: 1-800-899-2866 (If you get voicemail, leave message to get a call back.)
Web site: www.kidskonnected.org

    For children and teens who have a parent with cancer and for those who have lost a parent to cancer

Kidscope
Web site: www.kidscope.org

    Has special online materials, including a virtual comic book for children about chemotherapy (Kemo Shark) and a video for kids about a mom with breast cancer

National Cancer Institute
Toll-free number: 1-800-422-6237
Web site: www.cancer.gov

The Dougy Center
Toll-free number: 1-866-775-5683
Web site: www.dougy.org

    Information on grieving children, teens, and adults. Referrals to programs across the country and internationally that serve grieving children, teens, and their families

Other publications*

Books for adults

Can I Still Kiss You? Answering Your Children’s Questions About Cancer by Neil Russell. Published by HCI, 2001.

Helping Your Children Cope With Your Cancer: A Guide for Parents, 2nd Ed., by Peter Van Dernoot and Madelyn Case. Published by Hatherleigh Press, 2006.

How to Help Children Through a Parent’s Serious Illness, 2nd Ed. by Kathleen McCue and Ron Bonn. Published by St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011.

Life and Loss: A Guide to Help Grieving Children by Linda Goldman. Published by Taylor and Francis Group, 2nd Edition, 1999.

When a Parent Has Cancer: A Guide to Caring for Your Children by Wendy S. Harpham. Published by William Morrow Paperbacks, 2004.

Books for and other publications for children and teens

Although these books are intended for children, younger kids are helped more when an adult reads with and helps the child reflect about what different parts of the book mean to the child.

Becky and the Worry Cup, by Wendy Harpham. Published by William Morrow Paperbacks, 2004. Best for ages 5 to 10. (Sold with When a Parent Has Cancer, by the same author.)

Facing change: Coming Together & Falling Apart in the Teen Years by Donna B. O’Toole. Published by Compassion Press, 2004. Best for teens.

Fire in My Heart: Ice in My Veins by Enid Samuel-Traisman 2003. Published by Centering Corporation. Best for teens.

I know I Made It Happen: Children and Guilt by Lynn Bennett Blackburn. Published by Centering Corporation, 2003. Best for ages 6 to 12.

In Mommy’s Garden: A Book to Help Explain Cancer to Young Children by Neyal J. Ammary. Published by Canyon Beach Visual Communications, 2004. Best for very young children. Also available in Spanish.

Lost and Found: A Kid’s Book for Living Through Loss by Marc Gellman and Debbie Tilley. Published by HarperCollins, 1999. Best for ages 9 to 12.

Sammy’s Mommy Has Cancer (Books to Help Children) by Sherry Kohlenberg, Published by Gareth Stevens Publishers, 1994. Best for ages 4 to 9.

The Paper Chain by Claire Blake, Eliza Blanchard, and Kathy Parkinson. Published by Health Press, 1998. Best for ages 4 to 9.

The Year My Mother Was Bald by Ann Speltz and Kate Sternberg. Published by Magination Press, 2003. Best for ages 9 to 12.

Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-Tankerous Mommy by Amelia Frahm. Published by Hutchinson, Nutcracker Publishing Company, 2001. Best for ages 4 to 7.

Vanishing Cookies: Doing OK When a Parent Has Cancer by Michelle B. Goodman. Published by Michelle B. Goodman, 1991. Best for ages 9 to 12. (Check libraries and treatment center reading rooms; it can be hard to find a copy for sale.)

When Your Parent Has Cancer: A Guide for Teens. National Cancer Institute, 1-800-4-CANCER or online at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/when-your-parent-has-cancer. Best for teens.

Videos for children and adults

We Can Cope: Helping Parents Help Children When a Parent Has Cancer. DVD has sections for teens, younger children, and parents, as well as a guidebook on how to use it. Check your cancer treatment center library or call Inflexxion at 1-800-848-3895, extension 5 to find out how to buy it. (cost: $99.95)

*Inclusion on these lists does not imply endorsement by the American Cancer Society.

No matter who you are, we can help. Contact us anytime, day or night, for information and support. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.


Last Medical Review: 08/09/2012
Last Revised: 08/09/2012