Family Magazine

Helping Children Adjust to a Parent’s Cancer Diagnosis

By Therealsupermum @TheRealSupermum

Cancer is a difficult topic for anyone, but it can be terrifying for children. Seeing a parent go through cancer can be strange and

Helping Children Adjust to a Parent’s Cancer Diagnosis


heartbreaking. A child doesn’t understand why mommy is so tired all the time and it can be frightening for her to lose her hair. This is why it’s essential for parents to discuss cancer with their children right away. Here are just a few tips on helping children adjust to a parent’s cancer diagnosis.


Visit the Library to Find Kid’s Books on Cancer

There are a number of books written to help children and parents discuss cancer. It might actually be best to pick up books written for adults and books written for children. You can read the books written for children with your kids and discuss the material as you go along. Encourage your children to ask questions as well. You can then read the books written for parents so that you can better understand how to help your child get through some of the more difficult times.


Explain the Changes That Will Occur

It’s important for children to understand how cancer will change the parent who is diagnosed. If the parent will have chemo, you need to explain the side effects, such as hair loss and lack of energy. You also need to discuss how the parent may lose weight and look sickly. It can be hard to talk about, but preparing your child is better than the child watching it unfold and not knowing what’s going on.


Look for Ways to Spend Time Together That Require Little Energy

One thing that children may have a hard time adjusting to is not being able to play with their parent. Cancer patients, especially those

undergoing chemo, experience a lack of energy. However, there are many things you can do with your child that doesn’t require a lot of energy. Board games, movies on Netflix, reading, crafts, and even coloring can all be enjoyed by the entire family.


Talk to Your Child About Germs

Last, but not least, children need to understand that germs can be very bad for someone with cancer. You need to get your children in the habit of washing their hands frequently and using hand sanitizer any time they are going to be in contact with their sick parent. You should also discuss the need for the parent to wear a mask when going out.

Cancer can be frightening for the patient, but it can be even more terrifying for children of the patient. Take time to talk to your children upon first learning of the diagnosis.


About the Author: Jackson Starratt had a tough time helping his 7 year old daughter cope when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, he found ways to help her understand and she became the best nurse-in-training his wife could have asked for! Jackson is a medical billing specialist who recommends anyone interested in administrative healthcare roles visit for information on entering the field.

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