As the family member or friend of a child with cancer, we know how hard the journey can be. One thing that’s often most difficult is to meet the differing needs of each of the children in the household. Here are some ideas, tips, conversation starters, and support methods for your SuperSibs as they manage through their unique cancer journey. We know cancer is frightening and unpredictable, yet at the same time, you can play a key role in helping siblings redefine this journey – finding ways to share hope and laughter, feel strength and courage – and come together as a family.
Tips for grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins, friends and neighbors
- Talk to the siblings, ask them how they are doing and really listen to their responses. They may talk about how things have changed at home, or may want to talk about their lives outside of their sibling’s diagnosis, either is fine. What is important is they have a caring adult to listen. Insider Tip: go for a walk, this helps kids (and adults!) open up and discuss their feelings, fears, and joys more readily.
- Reserve the questions about the diagnosis and treatments for the parents or a designated adult. Better yet, volunteer to be that designated adult that can help keep the community updated.
- Encourage everyone, and lead by example, to call the sibling by their name (rather than patient’s older brother or sister)
- Offer to take some of the adult responsibilities off of older brothers and sisters to allow them to be kids again!
- Remember it is ok to laugh!
Siblings share their thoughts on how they were helped through their cancer journey.
“By the time I started opening up to my friends, I had hit rock bottom. But, they lifted me up to where I needed to be. Talking to friends about what goes on at home helps, because they can support you every step of the way.” -Emily S.
“I saw what living in a small community really meant when over 100 friends and family members came forward and harvested my family’s crop for us.” -Lauren M.
“I highly recommend finding a phenomenal friend, whether the friend is a dog, person or stuffed animal. It is vital that you are able to openly express your feelings with someone close that will not judge or criticize you.” -Katherine H.