When and how much to tell friends and family members, is an individual decision based on your trust and involvement with them. Once they have been told your child has cancer, you need to decide if and how they may help your family during your child’s treatment. Support from family members and friends can be very helpful. At the same time, it can also add more stress and worry to respond to friends and coordinate help.

Here are some tips for including friends and family:

  • It may be helpful to choose one family member or friend to be the “information dispenser” while you are in the hospital. Ask friends and family to contact this person for updated information. This way, you can tell one person and know that everyone can be informed. You can also let this person know things that others can do for you. He/she can then delegate these assignments to friends and family members who wish to help.
  • Many families use blogs or similar resources to help keep family and friends informed of their child’s condition.
  • Family and friends will genuinely want to help, but they often do not know what will actually help you and your child. Let them know what they can do. Often they can best help with everyday tasks so you can focus on higher priorities. Allowing them to assist you will lessen your stress and help them feel supportive of your needs.
  • At times, involving other family members may cause more stress than relief. Set firm limits with relatives and others from the beginning. Clearly outline what is helpful and what is not.  Ask your social worker for suggestions on how to effectively cope in this situation.
  • Friends, family members, and others will probably give you all kinds of advice, comforting words, and ideas. Some will be helpful and reassuring. Others will be upsetting or even offensive. It is nice to remember that people intend to be helpful but they do not know what to say. It may help to visit with other parents about responses they have found to be helpful in these circumstances.

May others care for my child?

Friends and relatives may care for your child as long as you teach them how. The use of day care facilities should be individualized. This is based on the family and the child’s needs. Special precautions and arrangements are recommended. Please talk with your physician. 

You are the expert in your child’s illness and care needs, and you will want to make sure any care provider for your child knows how to reach you at all times. Give the person an emergency telephone list and instructions on when and whom to call. Review how to take your child’s temperature and fever guidelines with your child’s care provider.

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