You and Your Partner
Everyone copes differently with the stress that accompanies a diagnosis, treatment, and life after cancer. The strain of a life-threatening illness, spending time apart, struggling to pay bills and creating some sense of normalcy for the other members of your family can wreak havoc on your relationship.
You and your partner may have trouble communicating your thoughts, feelings, concerns and needs. Embrace your differences, strengths and work together to get through this difficult time.
Your Other Children
Children are particularly sensitive to the drastic changes that occur once a sibling has been diagnosed with cancer. Confusion, fear, anger and jealousy are often expressed through behavior. It is important to recognize that behavioral changes may be a symptom of unexpressed emotional issues.
- Talk with your children about cancer and its treatment at an age-appropriate level and encourage them to ask questions.
- Reassure them that nothing they did or said caused the cancer. Explain that cancer is not contagious and childhood cancer is rare.
- Encourage your children to participate in the care of their sibling, both at home and in the hospital. Don’t worry that the hospital will be too traumatic for your kids; for most kids, it's usually scarier imagining what’s happening than actually visiting a sick sibling.
- Spend individual time with each of your children
- Encourage them to express their feelings openly and honestly. Allow them to be angry, sad or scared and reassure them these feelings are normal. Counseling can also help your children deal with their concerns and/or frustrations.
- When you talk with your child about cancer, watch her body language for clues to her true feelings.
- Discuss your family's situation with your children’s teachers so they can support your children during the day.
- Ask for assistance from the hospital's child-life specialist
- Find out if the hospital offers activities for siblings
- Take advantage of sibling programs and camps
- And most importantly, remind your children you love them. Shower them with hugs, kisses and plenty of affection.