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When a family member is diagnosed with cancer, helping children and other family members understand the diagnosis can be a difficult. You may have to juggle caring for your loved one while caring for or raising children.

If you have children, it is important to be able to meet the needs of your patient and those of your kids. This may require help from friends, family and neighbors in order to keep your children’s lives as normal as possible.

Children may start to act out at school and at home as they sense less time being available for them from their family. Although you will already have a lot of time consumed by other responsibilities, it is also important to check on your children’s fears and concerns.


The resources below offer guidance on how to talk about cancer with your children and family members, as well as balancing different caregiving roles.

Resource Links

Helping Children When a Loved One Has Cancer
American Cancer Society
Resources include:

  • Dealing with Diagnosis
  • Dealing with Treatment
  • Dealing with Recurrence or Progressive Illness
  • Understanding Psychosocial Support Services
  • Dealing with a Parent’s Terminal Illness
  • When a Child Has Lost a Parent

Teens Who Have a Family Member with Cancer (PDF Version)
National Cancer Institute
Resources specifically geared to teens and young adults who have a family member with cancer, whether a parent or sibling.

Young Adults Caring for a Parent with Cancer
Helps you think about your responsibilities as a caregiver of a parent and balancing that role with your own needs.

Parenting While Caring for a Parent with Cancer
Resources to help you when your child has cancer.

Adjusting to Cancer
National Cancer Institute
Includes information for patients and their caregivers about the following: Changes for the Family; Facing Cancer with Your Spouse or Partner; and Talking to Children.

Children with Cancer – A Parents Guide
National Cancer Institute
Includes information for parents and siblings of a child with cancer.

Caregiving During the Holidays and Special Occasions

For more information about creating your support network to help manage these responsibilities, see Creating & Managing Your Support Network