Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer: Dealing With Diagnosis

How a child reacts to a cancer diagnosis often depends on how its parents or other close adults handle the crisis. Kids learn through their parents’ behavior.

Although parents know this, they are under a great deal of stress and have their own intense feelings of fear and uncertainty. Also, if the child has known someone with cancer previously, his or her reaction may depend on the outcome of that person’s illness. If the person, they knew with cancer died then the reaction may be more severe than if the person they knew recovered. With the right kind of help, parents and their children can and do learn to cope well with cancer and its treatments.